Peter Noel Duhamel, Asst. Atty. Gen., Walter M. Phillips, Jr., Deputy Atty. Gen., Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Eagen, J., concurs in the result. Manderino and Nix, JJ., file dissenting opinions.
This is one of three companion cases*fn1 in which this Court must interpret the Act of November 22, 1968, P.L. 1080, 19 P.S. §§ 640.1-.6 (Supp.1974).
On January 31, 1974, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas convened a special grand jury to investigate, among other things, alleged corruption in the Philadelphia
Police Department.*fn2 Pursuant to a subpoena, appellee Salvatore LaRussa appeared before the grand jury on August 2, 1974. At this proceeding, he was questioned about bribes he allegedly paid to police officers on behalf of his employer and about his knowledge of other bribes paid by his employer. Appellee invoked his constitutional privilege*fn3 and refused to answer on the ground that his replies might be self-incriminating.
On August 16, 1974, the Attorney General petitioned the supervising court to grant appellee immunity and to order him to testify before the grand jury. The petition asserted that the grand jury was investigating police corruption and that it was necessary to grant immunity to obtain appellee's testimony about alleged payments to police officers. After a hearing conducted that day, the supervising court granted the petition.
Appellee immediately returned to the grand jury but persisted in refusing to answer its questions. He was once again brought before the supervising court. The court, after giving appellee another opportunity to answer the questions, found appellee to be in civil contempt of court and ordered him confined for a period of six months or until he purged himself of contempt.
The same day, appellee filed an appeal in the Superior Court. Later that day, the Superior Court set bail and, when bail had been posted, appellee was released. On December 11, 1974, the Superior Court reversed the supervising court's contempt citation. 232 Pa. Super. 272, 332 A.2d 553 (1974).*fn4 The Commonwealth petitioned this Court for ...