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MATTER PAUL A. DANDRIDGE (05/13/75)

decided: May 13, 1975.

IN THE MATTER OF PAUL A. DANDRIDGE, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY


COUNSEL

Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish, Levy & Coleman, William T. Coleman, Jr., Steven L. Friedman, Philadelphia, for respondent.

Michael vonMoschzisker, Deputy Atty. Gen., Eastern Regional Dir., Richard E. McDevitt, Philadelphia, for the Board.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Manderino, J., dissents.

Author: Jones

[ 462 Pa. Page 69]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The Judicial Inquiry and Review Board instituted formal proceedings against Judge Paul A. Dandridge by written notice served on June 3, 1974, charging the Judge as follows:

"It is charged that PAUL A. DANDRIDGE, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, has violated the Constitution of Pennsylvania, Article V, Section 17(b), as follows:

'Justices and judges shall not engage in any activity prohibited by law and shall not violate any canon of legal or judicial ethics prescribed by the Supreme Court. . . .'

IN THAT PAUL A. DANDRIDGE, on or about December 6, 1972, accepted the net proceeds from a testimonial dinner in his honor for his own personal use, in violation of Paragraph 32 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics in effect at that time, which provided that:

'A judge should not accept any presents or favors from litigants, or from lawyers practising before him or from others whose interests are likely to be submitted to him for judgment',

     and it is further charged that his conduct in accepting such monies gives the appearance of impropriety."

"WHEREFORE, said PAUL A. DANDRIDGE is subject to discipline, suspension or removal from office pursuant to Article V, Section 18(d) of the Pennsylvania Constitution."

[ 462 Pa. Page 70]

A hearing on the matter was conducted on June 19, 1974, before a panel of three members of the Board. On September 3, 1974, the full Board, consisting of nine members, issued its Report. The Board concluded that the charges against Judge Dandridge were proven and recommended that Judge Dandridge be privately admonished and that, within a reasonable time, Judge Dandridge should turn over to the Commonwealth an amount*fn1 equal to the monies received by Judge Dandridge after the testimonial dinner given in his honor. The Board stated that it reached its conclusions and recommendations in spite of Judge Dandridge's "exemplary service as a trial judge . . . his noteworthy efforts in civic activities, and . . . his excellent reputation for judicial temperament and integrity," and in spite of what the Board described as "the unfortunate and improper practice which apparently exists in Philadelphia County of some judges retaining proceeds from dinners held in their honor."

After argument before the entire Board on October 22, 1974, the Board issued a final order on November 25, 1974, affirming its prior Report. On December 19, 1974, before Judge Dandridge's thirty-day period for appeal expired under Rule 17 of the Rules of Procedure Governing the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board, this Court issued an Order adopting the recommendations of the Board. On December 20, 1974, a Petition to Vacate the Order of December 19, 1974, and a Petition Pursuant to Rule 17 of the Rules of Procedure Governing the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board were filed with this Court on behalf of Judge Dandridge.

On January 10, 1975, this Court issued an Order that the two petitions be held under advisement and that attorneys for Judge Dandridge and the counsel assigned by

[ 462 Pa. Page 71]

    the Attorney General under Rule 5(a) of the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board were to file briefs.

Upon consideration of the briefs and the oral argument held March 14, 1975, we hereby vacate our Order of December 19, 1974, as having been entered prematurely. Upon consideration of the entire proceedings however, we are convinced that Judge Dandridge has not been denied his constitutional rights and we are confident that the findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations of the Board in this matter are just and proper.

I

It is urged on Judge Dandridge's behalf that he was charged only with a violation of Canon 32 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics*fn2 which Canons were in existence at the time the allegedly improper conduct took place but which were repealed and superseded by the Code of Judicial Conduct adopted by this Court on November 21, 1973, effective January 1, 1974. There was no saving clause provision in the November 21, 1973, order. Counsel for Judge Dandridge argues that the charges should be dismissed as having no basis in authority.

The answer to this argument is that the charges were not simply restricted to a violation of Canon 32. It was also charged:

"that his conduct in accepting such monies gives the appearance of impropriety." (See charge, supra p. 886).

[ 462 Pa. Page 72]

This language was tantamount to a charge of violation of Canon 4*fn3 of the now repealed Canons of Judicial Ethics. Judge Dandridge and the dissenting opinion of Justice Nix seem to say that because the words "Canon 4" are not in the charge, due process is violated by the finding that he gave the appearance of impropriety. Failure to cite in the Notice any specific Canon or Rule does not render the Notice vague. Rule of Procedure 2(b) of the Board merely requires this:

"The notice shall specify in ordinary and concise language the charges against the judge and the alleged facts upon which such charges are based, and shall advise the judge of his right to file a written answer to the charges against him within twenty (20) days after service of the notice upon him." (Emphasis added).

Even a criminal indictment that fails to include a statutory citation will stand. Commonwealth ex rel. Robinson v. Baldi, 175 Pa. Super. 550, 106 A.2d 689, 690-91 ...


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