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WILLIAMS APPEAL (05/09/69)

decided: May 9, 1969.

WILLIAMS APPEAL


Appeals from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County, Feb. T., 1968, Nos. 92 1/2, 238 and 239, in re petition for reconsideration of petition of Oscar E. Kehler for recount of fraudulently altered ballots; and count of military absentee ballots and civilian absentee ballots, etc.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Woodside, with him Vincent V. Rovito, and Woodside & Woodside, for appellant.

David Berger, with him Howard L. Schambelan, Sheldon W. Farber and Stephen F. Poklemba, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Roberts joins in this dissent.

Author: Cohen

[ 434 Pa. Page 276]

This is an action resulting from challenges to the validity of certain absentee ballots in the November 7, 1967, General Election held in Northumberland County. In the contest for the third member of the Board of County Commissioners, appellee (Kehler) led the appellant (Williams). Both candidates challenged the counting of certain absentee ballots before the Election Board. From an adverse ruling of the Board, Kehler took an appeal which was heard by a special court en banc appointed by this Court. Williams filed a motion to dismiss that appeal on the basis that it was filed beyond the statutory filing period. The special court found otherwise and Williams appeals the refusal to grant his motion to dismiss and from other rulings of the court.

The written order of the Election Board disposing of the challenges was filed Thursday, February 29, 1968. Kehler took his appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County on Monday, March 4, 1968. The Election Code allows two days for taking an appeal from the decision of the Board.*fn1 The dispute arises as to computation of days elapsed where the final day upon which the appeal may be filed falls on a Saturday. Appellant contends that the Election Code of 1937, P. L. 1333, Art. I, § 103, 25 P.S. § 2603, which does not exclude a terminal Saturday in the counting, is the applicable statute. Appellee and the lower court maintain that the 1959 amendment to the Statutory Construction Act of 1937, P. L. 1019, Art. III, § 38, 46 P.S. § 538, has superseded the Election Code

[ 434 Pa. Page 277]

    and that the exclusion of a terminal Saturday in the 1959 amendment permits the appellee to file his appeal on the following Monday. We agree.

The Statutory Construction Act, as amended, 1959, August 11, P. L. 691, § 1, reads: "When any period of time is referred to in any law, such period in all cases, . . . shall be so computed as to exclude the first and include the last day of such period. Whenever the last day of any such period shall fall on Saturday or Sunday, or on any day made a legal holiday by the laws of this Commonwealth or of the United States, such day shall be omitted from the computation."

The meaning of this statutory language is clear. It refers to "any law" and "all cases." This section supersedes the computation method on all previously effective laws. No express repealer of the method of computation used in the Election Code is required because § 66 of the Statutory Construction Act, P. L. 1019, Art. IV, 46 P.S. § 566, provides that the law with the latest date of enactment is to prevail if an irreconcilable conflict exists between laws passed at different legislative sessions. Appellee filed within the required two days when he filed his appeal on Monday, March 4. To hold otherwise would be to ignore the Statutory Construction Act and the expressed legislative intent.

While unnecessary to decide this case, an examination of legislative history further substantiates our position. The original statute passed to regulate the computation of time, Act of June 20, 1883, P. L. 136, covered not only laws but also rules, orders, decrees of court and ordinances, resolutions, and by-laws of municipal or other public and private corporations. The 1883 Act was an attempt to govern the computation of time in a ...


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