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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. TELLER v. JENNINGS. (01/08/63)

January 8, 1963

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. TELLER, APPELLANT,
v.
JENNINGS.



Appeal, No. 414, Jan. T., 1962, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, March T., 1962, No. 281, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Stephen A. Teller, District Attorney, v. Jarrett W. Jennings, County Commissioner of Luzerne County. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

James Lenahan Brown, for appellant.

J. Earl Langan, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 409 Pa. Page 514]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

At the municipal election held on November 3, 1959, two Democrats and one Republican were elected to the Board of County Commissioners of Luzerne County. On January 11, 1962, one of these commissioners, appellee Jennings, changed his party registration from Democratic to Republican. An action of quo warrantor was thereupon commenced in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County by the District Attorney of Luzerne County for a judicial declaration that Jennings,

[ 409 Pa. Page 515]

    by changing his party representation, had forfeited his right to hold office and that a vacancy therefore existed in the office of county commissioner. The court below sustained appellee's preliminary objections to the complaint and this appeal followed.

Appellant relies upon Article XIV, ยง 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution for his contention that Jennings is now disqualified from holding the office of county commissioner.*fn1 That section provides: "Three county commissioners and three county auditors shall be elected in each county where such officers are chosen, in the year one thousand nine hundred and eleven and every fourth year thereafter; and in the election of said officers each qualified elector shall vote for no more than two persons, and the three persons having the highest number of votes shall be elected; any casual vacancy in the office of county commissioners or county auditor shall be filled, by the court of common pleas of the county in which such vacancy shall occur, by the appointment of an elector of the proper county who shall have voted for the commissioner or auditor whose place is to be filled."

Appellant argues that the mechanics established by section 7 for election to the board of county commissioners and filling of vacancies therein, evidence a purpose both to insure minority representation on the board and also to maintain the original party alignment of the commissioners.

Since members of both major political parties presently serve on the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners, the question of minority representation is not involved in this case and we cannot understand why appellant has placed such great weight ...


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