Appeals from order of Commonwealth Court, No. 987 C.D. 1972, in re: Subpoena of Pennsylvania Crime Commission to the Philadelphia Police Department and Joseph F. O'Neill, Commissioner of Police.
Harvey L. Anderson, with him Anthony D. Pirillo, Jr., for appellants.
Alexander Kerr, Deputy Attorney General, with him Israel Packel, Attorney General, for Pennsylvania Crime Commission, appellee.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Nix. Mr. Justice Manderino would affirm based on the opinion of the court below.
The instant controversy arose during the Pennsylvania Crime Commission's (hereinafter cited as Commission) investigation into charges of widespread official corruption within the Philadelphia Police Department and an evaluation of the law enforcement services being rendered by that body to the citizens of the City of Philadelphia. Pursuant to these activities on September 11, 1972, the Commission served a subpoena duces tecum upon the Philadelphia Commissioner of Police, Joseph F. O'Neill (hereinafter cited as Police Commissioner).
On motion of the Police Commissioner, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County stayed the Commission's proceedings pending a decision on a motion to quash the subpoena. On the same date, the same court entertained an action in equity brought by Paul Taylor, a disability pensioner; Thomas Garvey, an active duty policeman; Frank Levins, a retired policeman; and the Fraternal Order of Police by Charles
Gallagher, its President, for themselves and other similarly situated persons seeking a restraining order against the Police Commissioner to prevent his compliance with the mandate of the subpoena.*fn1 The court granted ex parte the restraining order. The Commission responded by petitioning this Court for a writ of prohibition against the judge below and the entire Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. In an order dated October 12, 1972, signed by Mr. Chief Justice Jones, this Court issued a rule to show cause upon the judge and the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and ordered a stay of proceedings until further action by this Court.
Also, on October 12, 1972, the Commission instituted the present action to enforce its subpoena in the Commonwealth Court. At the direction of this Court the Commonwealth Court proceeded with a hearing,*fn2 and on December 12, 1972, entered an order directing the production of the requested documents subject to certain restrictions as to their use by the Commission. Alleging the denial of an opportunity to participate in the action before the Commonwealth Court, the present appellants petitioned this Court for relief. On February 5, 1973, this Court remanded the cause to the Commonwealth Court with the direction that they: (a) determine whether the appellants were real parties in interest and had standing; and (b) if it was decided that appellants possessed standing, to allow them a hearing
upon the merits of the controversy. Subsequently, the Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of the appellants on the question of standing and against them on the merits. It is from the adverse decision upon the merits that the appellants now appeal. The Commission filed a cross appeal challenging the Commonwealth Court's finding of standing.
Initially, appellants raise the issue of whether the Commonwealth Court had jurisdiction over the instant enforcement proceedings. They argue that while the Commission ordinarily would be entitled to choose whether to seek enforcement of a subpoena in either the Commonwealth Court or a Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania Crime Commission Petitions, 446 Pa. 152, 285 A.2d 494 (1971), in the instant case, because of the pending proceedings in the Philadelphia ...