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ZACCAGNINI v. VANDERGRIFT BOROUGH. (04/20/59)

April 20, 1959

ZACCAGNINI, APPELLANT,
v.
VANDERGRIFT BOROUGH.



Appeal, No. 70, March T., 1959, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, July T., 1958, No. 330, in case of Julius J. Zaccagnini v. Borough of Vandergrift et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Irving R. Shull, with him John T. Crum, Roy E. Machen, Alfred I. Ginsberg, and Bernard L. Lemisch, for appellant.

Carroll Caruthers, with him Joseph W. Ceraso, for appellee, Borough of Vandergrift.

Carroll Caruthers, for appellees, Civil Service Commissioners.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 395 Pa. Page 287]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

One of the most extraordinary and almost magical manifestations of governmental power lies in its capacity to move a citizen from one town to another without the slightest physical molestation. On August 30, 1957, Julius J. Zaccagnini was living in the Township of Allegheny, Westmoreland County. On the next day, August 31, 1957, he found himself living in the Borough of Vandergrift. His house remained where it was, his ground was untouched; nevertheless he was now living in a completely different municipality. Did this political transmutation deprive him of rights which were his in the original municipality? If so, what were those rights? That is the problem which confronted him and that is the problem which he has entrusted to the courts to answer. Those rights, like practically all rights which go with citizenship, were not merely a matter of abstract consideration. Mr. Zaccagnini claims that, through no fault of his, the removal of a strip of Allegheny Township and its annexation to Vandergrift has subjected him to a deprivation of an inherent prerogative of citizenship. What is this claimed inherent prerogative?

Julius J. Zaccagnini is a policeman. Beginning with the year 1951, Allegheny Township employed him in that capacity on an hourly and mileage basis. On August 30, 1957, the Court of Quarter Sessions of Westmoreland County, at No. 5, April Term, 1957 (Civil) added the land on which Mr. Zaccagnini lived to the Borough of Vandergrift. Two days later (September 1, 1957), Zaccagnini obtained a leave of absence from the township and took up employment as a temporary policeman with the borough. On November 15, 1957, he was re-employed by the township. It seems that his hours of employment and the nature of his duties were such that he could work for both

[ 395 Pa. Page 288]

    municipalities contemporaneously so that from November 15, 1957, until March 15, 1958 (when he was removed from the borough payroll), he wore a policeman's badge for both municipalities.

Desiring permanent employment as a policeman in Vandergrift, Zaccagnini, on October 10, 1957, applied to the civil service commission of the borough to take the civil service examination scheduled for October 22, 1957. His application was denied because the civil service regulations provided that an applicant for a policeman's job must have resided in Vandergrift for at least one year prior to his application and the applicant must not be over 35 years of age. Mr. Zaccagnini (who was then 39 years old) protested the rejection of his application, contending that since the ground which was his residence had been arbitrarily sliced away and attached to Vandergrift, he was entitled to all the rights of a Vandergrift citizen who had lived in Vandergrift from the time it came into legal existence. In other words, he maintained that the annexation ordinance was to be interpreted retroactively. And then, with regard to the age qualification, Mr. Zaccagnini argued that this regulation was intended to apply only to those originally entering the field of law enforcement and since he had been a police officer since 1951, the regulation could not bar him. Further, he declared that since the borough employed him as a temporary policeman from September 9, 1957, until such time as a permanent employment could be made, the borough waived the 35-year maximum age requirement.

The borough did not agree with Mr. Zaccagnini's protestations, continued to refuse to let him take the civil service examination, and he accordingly went into court to enforce his alleged rights. He ...


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