Morris Gerber and Marc D. Jonas, Norristown, William J. Peters, Harrisburg, for appellant.
Edward Friedman, Matthew F. Coppolino, Chief Counsel, House of Representatives, Commonwealth of Pa., Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Manderino, J., concurs in the result. Roberts, J., concurs in the result.
This is an appeal from a final order dismissing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.*fn1 The relator, a witness in an investigation conducted by a committee of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, refused to answer certain questions put to him at the bar of the House. By resolution, the House of Representatives found him in contempt, and directed that he be committed until the expiration of the current session of the General Assembly unless he should sooner purge himself by testifying before the committee. The relator contends that his interrogation and the subsequent contempt proceedings violated his constitutional right to due process of law. We find no merit in these contentions, and accordingly affirm the order dismissing the petition for the writ.
On February 6, 1973, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution No. 21, which established a
"special committee" of five members of the House to investigate "any and all matters pertaining to . . . law enforcement or the administration of justice; for the purpose of informing the House of Representatives in the discharge of its constitutional and legislative functions."*fn2 The relator, Lieutenant Angelo Carcaci of
the Pennsylvania State Police, was summoned to testify before the committee concerning his activities as a member of the State Police. On the advise of counsel, Carcaci refused to answer certain questions propounded to him by the committee.*fn3 The committee referred the matter to the House of Representatives, which, on December 12, 1973, unanimously adopted House Resolution No. 152, directing Carcaci to appear before the bar of the House. This resolution made specific reference to the subject matter of the questions put to Carcaci by the committee, his refusal to answer those questions, and the penalty which his continued refusal might entail. On January 29, 1974, Carcaci appeared before the bar of the House, and again refused to answer any questions of the committee. On the same day the House adopted a resolution finding Carcaci in contempt of the House of Representatives and authorizing the issuance of a warrant for his commitment to the respondent, the Sergeant-at-Arms of
the House. Shortly thereafter, Carcaci commenced these proceedings by filing ...