Original jurisdiction in case of Isadore M. Scott, James C. McConnon, Joseph Tracy, Joseph L. Pyle, Jr., Ellen Ann Roberts, Francis P. Desmond, Weldon B. Heyburn, Denver Lindley, Jr., Harry A. McNichol, Nicholas F. Catania and Theodore S. A. Rubino, Petitioners, v. Howard C. [sic] Shapiro, Richard Roe and John Doe, Respondents.
Lewis H. Van Dusen, Jr., and Robert Yaroschuk, for petitioners.
Francis J. Sullivan and Jackson, Bortner & Ballow, for defendants.
Lawrence Silver, Deputy Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for Commonwealth.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 480]
On February 14, 1975, respondent, Howard S. Shapiro, a Philadelphia newspaper reporter, was informed by certain of the parties in attendance, that his presence was unwelcome at a meeting about to be convened or then being held at a Holiday Inn in Philadelphia. Being so advised, he voluntarily left. The purpose of this meeting
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 481]
was to discuss and entertain proposals relative to the operations of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). Thereafter, respondent, through counsel, advised several of the parties who had attended the meeting of his intention to initiate criminal proceedings against all persons in attendance, believing that he had a right to be present at said meeting pursuant to the provisions of the Act of July 19, 1974, P.L. , No. 175 (commonly and hereinafter referred to as the "Sunshine Law").
After having been apprised of Mr. Shapiro's intentions, eleven of the persons who attended the meeting (petitioners), all of whom have identified themselves as members of the board of SEPTA and/or commissioners of one of the counties which comprise SEPTA,*fn1 requested the intervention of this Court to prevent the actuation of Mr. Shapiro's expressed intention to initiate criminal proceedings. Petitioners seek injunctive and declaratory judgment relief. After various questions relating to the issuance or denial of a preliminary injunction were resolved (such relief was denied), this Court, by Order of April 4, 1975, directed the parties*fn2 to submit briefs on the single issue of our jurisdiction over the cause of action asserted.
[ 19 Pa. Commw. Page 482]
Petitioners do not allege that jurisdiction lies with this Court under section 401 of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970 (ACJA).*fn3 Rather, they recognize the futility of such reliance, in light of our recent decision in Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Page 482} Kohn.*fn4 Instead, petitioners assert that the "Sunshine Law," which ...