Mead J. Mulvihill, Jr., City Sol., Marvin A. Fein, Asst. City Sol., Pittsburgh, for appellant at Nos. 229 and 230.
Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Charles W. Johns, Asst. Dist. Attys., Pittsburgh, for appellant at Nos. 234 and 248.
Allen N. Brunwasser, Pittsburgh, for appellees at Nos. 229, 230, 234 and 248.
Mead J. Mulvihill, Jr., City Sol., Marvin J. Fein, Asst. City Sol., Pittsburgh, for appellees at Nos. 234 and 248.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Mr. Justice O'Brien and former Justice Pomeroy did not participate in the decision of this case.
Relators Theresa Paulinski, James F. Rickard, and Patricia K. Fitzpatrick were brought before Magistrate Stephen P. Laffey of a magistrate court of the City of Pittsburgh for preliminary hearings on various misdemeanor
charges. Relators were held for court and released on bail. Relators then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, naming their bonding company and its agents as defendants. The court of common pleas on September 25, 1975, directed the Commonwealth to respond and not to present relators' case to the grand jury until further order of the Court. On November 7, 1975, the court issued an order permitting the City to intervene. After a hearing, the court of common pleas, by opinion and order of October 5, 1977, held that the Constitution of 1968 abolished Pittsburgh magistrate courts and that no magistrate appointed after the adoption of the 1968 Constitution is a judicial officer. Magistrate Laffey was appointed after this time and the court therefore ordered the discharge of relators. The Commonwealth and the City of Pittsburgh appeal.*fn1
Appellants assert that the court of common pleas erred both on procedural and substantive grounds. Their principal procedural objection is that relators' bailment leaves them without standing to challenge the court's jurisdiction. Further, appellants contend that the power of a court may be challenged only in a quo warrantor proceeding and that petitioners have no remedy since quo warrantor relief is exclusively prospective. On the merits, appellants argue that Pittsburgh magistrate courts were preserved by the Constitution of 1968, and are provided for by law.
We reject appellants' procedural claims, but hold that the Constitution of 1968 incorporates Pittsburgh magistrate courts into the unified judicial system of this Commonwealth. Accordingly, we vacate the October 5, 1977 order of the court of common pleas and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Appellants maintain that a collateral challenge to the lawfulness of an exercise of ...