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BUTLER TOWNSHIP CASE (11/14/67)

decided: November 14, 1967.

BUTLER TOWNSHIP CASE


Appeal from order of Court of Quarter Sessions of Butler County, Sept. T., 1965, No. 1, in re creation of additional ward in Butler Township.

COUNSEL

Leo M. Stepanian, with him Brydon, Stepanian, O'Brien & Cook, for appellant.

No argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Mr. Justice Musmanno took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Cohen

[ 428 Pa. Page 2]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Butler County rendered pursuant to the Act of May 27, 1949, P. L. 1955, as amended, August 24, 1963, P. L. 1146, 53 P.S. §§ 55401-55408.

We find it unnecessary to reach a decision on the substantive aspects of this case because appellant has been effectively denied due process of law in the court below.

The record discloses that on July 13, 1965, the court below appointed three commissioners to inquire into and submit a report on the propriety of granting appellant's request that an additional ward be created in Butler Township. The commissioners thereafter submitted a report recommending the consolidation of wards rather than the creation of an additional ward as suggested by appellant.

On November 14, 1966, the report was confirmed nisi by the court below, the confirmation to become absolute unless exceptions were filed thereto within thirty days. Exceptions were then filed to the report by appellant and a hearing date was fixed by the court. After a hearing was held and testimony was taken, the court again referred the matter to the commissioners for further study and recommendations on the feasibility

[ 428 Pa. Page 3]

    of electing part or all of the township's commissioners at large. An "amended report" was filed on February 14, 1967, recommending that there be five commissioners, all of whom shall be elected at large. On the same date the court below confirmed absolutely the "amended report" without giving notice to appellant of such confirmation.

The Act of May 27, 1949, P. L. 1955, § 403, 53 P.S. § 55403 provides:

"Section 403. Filing and confirmation of report; exceptions. When the report is presented, the court shall confirm the report nisi, which confirmation shall become absolute unless exceptions thereto are filed within thirty days after such confirmation nisi. The court may grant a review if, in its opinion, a better adjudication may thereby be secured. If no exceptions are filed, the court may confirm the report, or make such other order as by it shall be deemed proper. If exceptions are filed, the court shall ...


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