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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. MARGIOTTI v. ORSINI (06/27/51)

June 27, 1951

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. MARGIOTTI, APPELLANT,
v.
ORSINI



Appeals, Nos. 54 and 55, March T., 1951, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1951, Nos. 238 and 239, in cases of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel. Charles J. Margiotti, Attorney General, v. John Orsini and Same v. Clifford Price. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Harry F. Stambaugh, Special Counsel, with him W. Denning Stewart, Special Deputy Attorney General and Robert E. Woodside, Jr., Attorney General, for appellant.

Premo J. Columbus, for appellees.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell and Ladner, JJ.

Author: Bell

[ 368 Pa. Page 260]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

The Attorney General of Pennsylvania superseded the District Attorney of Allegheny County in the investigation of alleged widespread criminal activities in that County and in the direction and control of a grand jury investigation of alleged violations of the law by public officials and public employees. The supersession of the District Attorney by the Attorney General in that particular matter was sustained by this Court in Margiotti Appeal, 365 Pa. 330, 75 A.2d 465.

The Attorney General issued a subpoena to John Orsini and Clifford Price under the provisions of Section 520 of The Administrative Code of April 9, 1929, P.L. 177, 71 P.S. ยง 200. The subpoena commanded each respondent to appear at a hearing before the Attorney General in the Keystone Building, Fourth Avenue, Pittsburgh, to testify all that the respondent knows

[ 368 Pa. Page 261]

" affecting an investigation*fn* by the said Attorney General concerning criminal acts of public officials and public employees arising out of violations of a public trust in the City of Pittsburgh or the County of Allegheny." Price ignored the subpoena and did not appear; Orsini appeared but, on advice of counsel, refused to be sworn or to answer questions.

The Attorney General then filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas praying for a rule upon each respondent to show cause why he should not comply with the subpoena and in the event of his failure to comply with the order of the court, why he should not be adjudged in contempt of court. The Court of Common Pleas granted a rule upon each respondent to show cause why he should not comply with the subpoena; and the court, after argument, entered an order discharging the rule. From this order the Attorney General took this appeal.

Respondent's first contention is that he could not be subpoenaed to testify before the Attorney General because he had previously testified concerning the same matter before a grand jury. On the meagre facts averred, admitted or denied in this record, that would be no defense. The Attorney General is given, under The Administrative Code, the power " to investigate any violations, or alleged violations, of the laws of the Commonwealth"; and his common law and statutory investigatorial powers are supplementary to those of the grand jury. His investigation might well disclose other criminal offenses than the one or more criminal offenses which the grand jury was investigating: Cf. Penfield Co. v. Securities & Exchange ...


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