Original jurisdiction upon petitions for writ of prohibition, in re Investigation of the January 1974 Philadelphia County Grand Jury, Custodian of Records, Thomas J. Mangan, Joseph I. Fineman, Otto Winter, Nora Slavin, Martin Weinberg, Meridian Engineering, Inc., Charles Frank, Augustine Salvitti, Gary Friedman, and Louis Cissoni, petitioners.
Sheldon L. Albert, Deputy City Solicitor, with him Stephen Arinson and Nicholas Panarella, Assistant City Solicitors, and Martin Weinberg, City Solicitor, for petitioners in No. 122.
John R. Padova, with him Solo, Bergman & Padova, for petitioners in No. 131.
Walter M. Phillips, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, with him Harry S. Tischler and Mark A. Klugheit, Assistant Attorneys General, for respondents.
Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Eagen and Mr. Justice Nix dissent. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino.
In June of 1972 Judge Harry A. Takiff convened and charged a grand jury, upon the petition of the District Attorney, to investigate various aspects of official corruption in the City of Philadelphia. The convening of that grand jury was upheld by this Court in Commonwealth ex rel. Camelot Detective Agency, Inc. v. Specter, 451 Pa. 370, 303 A.2d 203 (1973). During the term of that grand jury twenty-one presentments were made identifying pervasive and systematic corruption and other criminal acts among public officials and employees,
and numerous indictments were recommended. In addition, the June 1972 grand jury issued a final report in January of 1974 wherein it recommended that a new investigating grand jury be convened "very promptly" to inquire further into the distribution of narcotics and related payoffs to policemen, and kickbacks required of architects, engineers, milk company executives and other businessmen in exchange for procuring public contracts.
Judge Takiff was also assigned to supervise the January 1974 grand jury. Although the new District Attorney who took office in the beginning of January 1974 had taken no action in response to the recommendations of the June 1972 grand jury, two citizens' groups had petitioned Judge Takiff requesting such an investigation. These petitions which were filed by the Committee of Seventy and Americans for Democratic Action were rendered moot on January 31, 1974, however, when Judge Takiff charged the grand jury on his own motion to conduct an investigation into nine specified areas.*fn1 In order to effectuate this charge, the term
of the grand jury was extended indefinitely and the grand jury was directed to reconvene, following completion of business, on February 11, 1974. Additionally, Judge Takiff requested the District Attorney to assign members of his staff to handle the investigation being conducted by the grand jury. The District Attorney, however, declined to comply with Judge Takiff's request and subsequent order to assign members of his staff to conduct these investigations.
Following the District Attorney's refusal to comply with Judge Takiff's order, President Judge Jamieson advised the Attorney General of the Commonwealth by letter that in his judgment the matter was appropriate for intervention by the Commonwealth and requested him, pursuant to the Act of April 9, 1929, P. L. 177, art. IX, § 907, 71 P.S. § 297, to assign a special attorney or attorneys to represent the Commonwealth, attend the January 1974 grand jury and perform all the duties and responsibilities in connection therewith. The Attorney General responded to President Judge Jamieson's request with the suggestion that there first be a request for a determination by this Court to resolve the question of the validity of the grand jury. Subsequently, the Attorney General filed a petition for declaratory judgment to determine the validity or invalidity of the grand jury and a second petition requesting that this Court assume original jurisdiction of the petition seeking declaratory relief. The merits of these petitions were the subject of oral argument before this Court on April 29, 1974. On July 1, 1974, this Court entered an opinion and order denying declaratory relief ...