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COMMONWEALTH v. HERB (11/16/67)

decided: November 16, 1967.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HERB, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Quarter Sessions of Northampton County, June T., 1966, No. 107, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Donald C. Herb.

COUNSEL

Robert C. McFadden, with him William J. Morrissey, for appellant.

Donald B. Corriere, Assistant District Attorney, with him Bernard V. O'Hare, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Ervin, P. J.

Author: Ervin

[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 121]

This is an appeal by the defendant from the refusal of the court below to quash an information charging him with a summary offense under The Vehicle Code, "following too closely."

The City of Bethlehem is the only third class city in Pennsylvania which lies in two counties. The alleged offense took place in the portion of the city which is in Lehigh County. The summons served on the defendant directed him to appear before the Bethlehem Traffic Court, which, during that particular month, was in charge of an alderman of Northampton County. The defendant waived the hearing and requested that the case be returned to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Lehigh County. Instead it was returned to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Northampton County. There the defendant moved to quash the information on the ground that the alleged offense arose in Lehigh County. After argument the defendant's motion was denied.

[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 122]

It is the defendant's contention that neither the Northampton alderman nor the Northampton Court of Quarter Sessions had jurisdiction over him.

There is no doubt but that the general rule is that a magistrate, justice of the peace or alderman has jurisdiction only over the locality from which he was elected, but there are statutory exceptions. For example, § 1201 of The Vehicle Code, which consolidated and revised the law relative to motor vehicles (75 PS § 1201), provides that informations charging violations of its summary provisions shall be brought before the nearest available magistrate, but it specifically excepted violations which could be brought before any magistrate of the traffic court of Philadelphia or before any police magistrate of the municipal traffic court of any city of the second class, together with two other exceptions not relevant here. The two classes of traffic courts had been previously established by the Acts of September 29, 1951, P. L. 1623, 53 PS § 22291 et seq., and June 14, 1957, P. L. 315, 42 PS § 1110.1 et seq., respectively. At that time there were no traffic courts authorized for cities of the third class or townships of the first class.

By the Act of July 10, 1961, P. L. 559, the legislature authorized the establishment of traffic courts in cities of the third class by adding § 1201.1 to The Vehicle Code, 75 PS § 1201.1,*fn1 which reads as follows: "(a) Any city of the third class may establish a traffic court which shall have jurisdiction over all traffic violations involving only summary offenses arising within the city under the provisions of this act or of any ordinance regulating traffic not inconsistent with this act.

[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 123]

"(b) Every such traffic court shall be in charge of an alderman having all the powers of a magistrate under the provisions of this act, such alderman to be designated by the mayor of the city from the elected ...


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