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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. HORACE HETHERINGTON (01/27/75)

decided: January 27, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
HORACE HETHERINGTON, APPELLEE



COUNSEL

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Division, Karl K. Lunkenheimer, Asst. Dist. Atty., James A. Shellenberger, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Motions Div., Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Howard E. Davidson, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., would dismiss the appeal as improvidently granted. Eagen, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Nix

[ 460 Pa. Page 20]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellee, Horace Hetherington, a Title Inspector for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was arrested on charges of blackmail,*fn1 extortion,*fn2 receiving a bribe,*fn3 malfeasance,*fn4 misfeasance,*fn5 and nonfeasance of office.*fn6 These charges stemmed from accusations made by a Philadelphia motor vehicle dealer that appellee had offered to "handle" certain irregularities on titles to vehicles owned by the dealer.

Following a preliminary hearing the magistrate held appellee for action by the grand jury on charges of receiving a bribe, malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance

[ 460 Pa. Page 21]

    in office. The charges of blackmail and extortion were dismissed.

Appellee then filed a "Motion to Quash" as to the four charges upon which he was held. This motion was presented to a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, who, after a hearing, granted the motion. The Commonwealth then moved to rearrest appellee on all charges by way of a petition filed and heard by another judge of the same court.

The latter judge, believing that the doctrine of res judicata and the orderly administration of justice precluded one judge of the Court of Common Pleas from reversing the order of another, denied the petition without a hearing. The Superior Court affirmed and this Court granted allocatur.

The position of the Commonwealth may best be analyzed by considering first their claimed denial of a right to rearrest as to those charges initially discharged by the committing magistrate and then a consideration of their claim that the second common pleas judge should have reviewed the action of another judge of the same court who had determined a committing magistrate to be in error in making a finding of a prima facie case.

In Commonwealth ex rel. Maisenhelder v. Rundle, 414 Pa. 11, 15-16, 198 A.2d 565, 567 (1964), we described the function of a preliminary ...


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