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COMMONWEALTH v. ONE 1957 CHEVROLET SEDAN (ET AL. (11/11/59)

November 11, 1959

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ONE 1957 CHEVROLET SEDAN (ET AL., APPELLANT).



Appeal, No. 373, Oct. T., 1959, from order of Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County Nov. T., 1958, No. 32, Miscellaneous Docket, in re Commonwealth v. One 1957 Chevrolet Sedan et al. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

William N. J. McGinniss, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him George G. Lindsay and Horace A. Segelbaum, Assistant Attorneys General, and Anne X. Alpern, Attorney General, for Liquor Control Board, appellant.

No argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.

Samuel A. Schreckengaust, Jr., Robert H. Maurer, and Jack A. Riggs, and McNees, Wallace & Nurick, for amicus curiae.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ. (hirt and Gunther, JJ., absent).

Author: Rhodes

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 180]

OPINION BY RHODES, P.J.

This is an appeal by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board from an order of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County refusing the board's petition for forfeiture of One 1957 Chevrolet Sedan illegally used in the transportation of liquor, and directing release of the vehicle to Ace Auto Rental, Inc., the owner and lessor.

There is no question but that the vehicle was unlawfully used in the transportation of liquor at the time of its seizure by enforcement officers of the board in Northampton Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. When the vehicle was seized on August 31, 1958, it was in the possession of Amos Patterson who was later convicted of the unlawful manufacture, transportation, and possession of untaxed liquor and of conspiracy in the operation of a still. The vehicle had been rented by Patterson from Ace Auto Rental, Inc., 4218 Brown Street, Philadelphia, on August 28, 1958. An answer to the board's petition for forfeiture was filed by Ace Auto Rental, Inc., asserting it had no knowledge of the illegal use by its lessee, Patterson, and asking the court to release the vehicle. Following a hearing, at which the board and claimant presented testimony, the court entered the order from which the appeal has been taken directing return of the vehicle to Ace Auto Rental, Inc.

The appeal concerns the effect of the amendments to sections 601 and 602 of the Liquor Code of April 12, 1951, P.L. 90, article VI, 47 PS §§ 6-601, 6-602, by the

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 181]

Act of April 20, 1956, P.L. (1955) 1508. The board's primary contention is that, where the board requests forfeiture and illegal use is shown, such forfeiture is mandatory as it was under the 1951 Code. It is argued that the courts of quarter sessions are not given discretion by virtue of the 1956 amendments to sections 601 and 602 of the 1951 Code as to forfeiture even where claimant is an innocent owner or lien holder. In the alternative, it is argued on behalf of the board that the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County abused its discretion in the present case.

Section 601 of the Liquor Code of April 12, 1951, P.L. 90, article VI, 47 PS § 6-601, provided: "No property rights shall exist in any liquor, alcohol or malt or brewed beverage illegally manufactured or possessed, or in any still, equipment, material, utensil, vehicle, boat, vessel, animals or aircraft used in the illegal manufacture or illegal transportation of liquor, alcohol or malt or ...


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