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PENNSYLVANIA CRIME COMMISSION PETITIONS (12/29/71)

decided: December 29, 1971.

PENNSYLVANIA CRIME COMMISSION PETITIONS


Appeals from orders of Commonwealth Court, Nos. 402, 404, and 405, C.D. of 1971, in re The Petitions of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission for rules to show cause why Michael Grasso, Jr., Ralph Puppo and Rocco Molinari should not be ordered to testify and to produce documentary evidence; appeal of Michael Grasso, Jr., Ralph Puppo, and Rocco Molinari.

COUNSEL

Alan J. Davis, with him Lester J. Schaffer, Ronald N. Rutenberg, Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, Zink, Shinehouse & Holmes, and Rutenberg, Rutenberg, Rutenberg and Rutenberg, for appellants.

Alan L. Adlestein, Assistant Attorney General, with him Russell M. Coombs, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Chief Justice Bell took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 446 Pa. Page 153]

This case presents a challenge to the personal and subject matter jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court to determine whether appellants should be compelled to obey subpoenas to testify before the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.

The pertinent facts are that on May 3, 1971, appellants were served with subpoenas directing them to appear

[ 446 Pa. Page 154]

    and give testimony before the Crime Commission*fn1 at the State Office Building in Philadelphia. Appellants, accompanied by their respective lawyers, appeared at the appointed time and place, but they refused to be sworn or to answer any questions or to produce any documents, alleging that the Commission and its processes are unlawful and invalid under the Pennsylvania Constitution and laws and the Constitution of the United States. Subsequently, on June 1, 1971, the Commission petitioned the Commonwealth Court for a "Rule to Show Cause Why [Appellants] Should Not Be Ordered to Testify and to Produce Documentary Evidence." The Rule was granted and made returnable on June 16, 1971, and notice thereof duly given to appellants. Prior to the return date appellants filed preliminary objections raising the jurisdictional questions above mentioned. The objections having been overruled, this appeal followed.*fn2

I. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

Section 3 of the Crime Commission, Act, supra, note 1, 71 P.S. 307-7(9) (Supp. 1971), provides: ". . . Upon failure of any person so ordered to testify or to produce evidence, the commission may invoke the aid of any court of common pleas of the county wherein the person

[ 446 Pa. Page 155]

    is summoned to appear or the county wherein the person is served with a subpoena." Appellants contend that by reason of the above provision, only the courts of common pleas have ...


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