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AUNGST CONTEMPT CASE. (07/15/63)

July 15, 1963

AUNGST CONTEMPT CASE.


Appeal, No. 114, Jan. T., 1963, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, Nov. T., 1962, No. 569, in re proceedings of contempt of court against Bud Aungst, Mgr., Joseph L. Maguire, John T. Maguire and Kenneth F. Maguire, officers. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

W. J. Krencewicz, for appellants.

Calvin J. Friedberg, with him Hicks, Williamson, Friedberg, Jones & McKenna, for appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 411 Pa. Page 596]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County (one judge dissenting) denying (without prejudice) the petition of nineteen members of the bar of that court (appellants) for a rule to show cause why the respondents (appellees) should not be adjudged in contempt of court. The matter below was entirely ex parte; appellees became participants in this proceeding only before this Court upon receipt of appellants' briefs on appeal.

There is no dispute as to the facts material to this appeal. On February 14, 1961, thirteen members of the bar of Schuylkill County, as officers of that court (later joined by six additional lawyers), presented

[ 411 Pa. Page 597]

    a written statement to the court en banc, reciting that respondents (officers and agents of a radio station) for more than a year had been making radio broadcasts which "vigorously pursued a course of conduct to influence those, past and present, who serve as members of the Jury ... and to illegally influence those who may subsequently serve as members of a jury. ..." The statement asserted also that respondents' conduct constituted "what is commonly known as a 'Jury Fix'" and that the broadcasts were "not confined to argument and persuasion but also to almost daily threats of intimidation as to people who serve as members of the Jury and to castigate and hold them up to public ridicule in the event that their verdicts were not as suggested ..." by the broadcasts. Members of the juries were characterized as "bums, incompetents and delinquents." The statement further recited that the broadcasts "repeatedly castigated all of the Judges" of the court below, "in an apparent endeavor to intimidate the court into handing down sentences, opinions and handling the business of the court in accordance with the ideas, suggestions and opinions ..." of the radio station.

The written statement concluded with a request to the court to give consideration to a rule to show cause why the respondents should not answer to the court for these charges of contempt.

On February 20, 1961, the nineteen lawyers presented to the court below a formal sworn petition repeating in essence their prior representations and further alleging that respondents "have almost daily committed contempts of court by their unwarranted and criminal accusations [as to all four judges of the court] ...


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