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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ALJIA DUMAS PRIVATE DETECTIVE AGENCY (02/18/77)

decided: February 18, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ALJIA DUMAS PRIVATE DETECTIVE AGENCY, INC., APPELLANT



Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, February Term, T.D., C.S. 1975, N3. 7400-4190. No. 757 October Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

Anthony J. DeFino, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Mark Sendrow and Steven H. Goldblatt, Assistant District Attorneys, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Van der Voort, J., concurs in the result. Price, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Jacobs, J., joins. Spaeth, J., dissents for the reasons stated by the lower court.

Author: Hoffman

[ 246 Pa. Super. Page 142]

On June 21, 1976, the lower court denied appellant's application for reissuance of its license to do business under the Private Detective Act (the "Act" hereinafter).*fn1 Appellant contends that the lower court considered improper information in arriving at its decision. We agree and remand for further consideration.

Aljia Dumas has continuously run the detective agency which provides security for many Philadelphia businesses, since he opened the unincorporated business in October, 1969. In 1972, Dumas applied for and was granted a renewal of his license. Dumas has conducted business as a corporation since July 23, 1973. On August 14,

[ 246 Pa. Super. Page 1431974]

, Dumas filed an application in the court of common pleas for a second renewal of the license.

Upon notification that the appellant sought renewal of the license, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office began an investigation of appellant pursuant to the Act. 22 P.S. § 15. As a result, the Commonwealth entered its opposition to the renewal because appellant failed to submit monthly reports of its hiring and firing as requested by the District Attorney's Office and because appellant had hired a detective who had been convicted of a felony. See 22 P.S. § 23.

On June 9, 1975, and on two subsequent days in July, 1975, the lower court held a hearing to determine the basis for the Commonwealth's opposition to the renewal. The court concluded that all of the facts of record "evidence[d] a manifest lack of good character on the part of petitioner." The court relied on several factors in reaching that conclusion: "[T]he [appellant] failed to file monthly reports, on the hiring and firing of employees, as requested by the District Attorney's office pursuant to Section 5(a) of the Act. That section authorizes the District Attorney to enforce the Private Detective Act; as part of its enforcement powers, section 5 empowers the District Attorney to require licensees to provide information about the conduct of their business. The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office requires every holder of a private detective license to provide monthly reports on the hiring and firing of employees." As will be discussed infra, the lower court erroneously relied on the failure to file monthly reports with the district attorney's office. Although we recognize that the court's decision is discretionary, we conclude that the court relied on at least one erroneous, but significant factor; therefore we must remand the case because we do not know precisely how that factor contributed to the court's ultimate decision to deny the license.

As noted above, the district attorney opposed reissuance of the license on several ...


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