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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. FRANK J. WADZINSKI (10/05/78)

decided: October 5, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
FRANK J. WADZINSKI, APPELLANT



No. 157 January Term, 1977, Appeal from Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, filed at No. 734 October Term, 1975, affirming the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Luzerne County at No. 9390 of 1973, dismissing Writ of Certiorari.

COUNSEL

Silverblatt & Townend, James F. Geddes, Jr., Wilkes-Barre, for appellant.

Patrick J. Toole, Jr., Dist. Atty., Joseph J. Van Jura, Asst. Dist. Atty., Wilkes-Barre, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 485 Pa. Page 249]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The appellant, Frank J. Wadzinski, was in 1973 an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of the City of Nanticoke. After the election, Wadzinski was charged in a criminal complaint with violating section 1614 of the Pennsylvania Election Code*fn1 in that during the 48 hour period before election day

[ 485 Pa. Page 250]

    appellant made a paid political broadcast referring to his opponent without giving prior notice of the broadcast as required by the Code. He was convicted of this offense and fined $25 by a district magistrate. Pursuant to the Minor Judiciary Court Appeals Act,*fn2 appellant filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County challenging the constitutionality of section 1614 of the Election Code, supra note 1, and claiming certain irregularities in the magistrate's proceedings. The court of common pleas dismissed the writ, holding in part that the constitutionality of a statute is not a cognizable issue upon appeal by way of writ of certiorari.*fn3 The Superior Court

[ 485 Pa. Page 251]

    affirmed,*fn4 and we allowed an appeal to this Court.

The narrow issue for decision concerns the proper scope of review by a court of common pleas upon appeal to it by a writ of certiorari from a minor court. Although the provision under which appellant petitioned the lower court has now been suspended, see note 2 supra, and this problem is unlikely to recur, it nevertheless must be answered in this case, for appellant asserts that his constitutional rights have been violated. We hold that the common pleas court did have the power to entertain the merits of appellant's claim upon a grant of certiorari.*fn5

As both courts below concluded, the proper procedure at the time appellant filed his petition with the court of common pleas in 1973 was to file an appeal under section 3 of the Minor Judiciary Appeals Act, supra note 2, 42 P.S. ยง 3003, which provided for a general appeal and a ...


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