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WILLIAM J. RUANO v. ALEXANDER F. BARBIERI (04/18/79)

decided: April 18, 1979.

WILLIAM J. RUANO, ESQUIRE, PETITIONER
v.
ALEXANDER F. BARBIERI, JUDGE, COURT ADMINISTRATOR OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND GERALD W. SPIVACK, ESQUIRE, DEPUTY COURT ADMINISTRATOR, RESPONDENTS



Original jurisdiction in case of William J. Ruano v. Alexander F. Barbieri, Judge, Court Administrator of Pennsylvania, and Gerald W. Spivack, Esquire, Deputy Court Administrator.

COUNSEL

D. Michael Fisher, for petitioner.

Jonathan Vipond, III, for respondents.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail. Judges DiSalle and Craig did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 68]

Petitioner, William J. Ruano, Esquire, has filed a petition for review in the nature of a complaint in equity and for declaratory judgment. Petitioner seeks to have this Court (a) determine the vitality and constitutionality of Section 205 of the Magisterial District Reform Act (Reform Act),*fn1 42 P.S. § 2205, and (b) order respondents to register him as a "qualified retired district justice" under the provisions of that section.

The material facts of this case are not in dispute. On November 21, 1977, petitioner was appointed and commissioned as a district justice by Governor Shapp. On April 20, 1978, petitioner attained the age of seventy, and was, therefore, required to retire

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 69]

    as district justice by the mandatory retirement provisions of Article V, Section 16(b), of the Pennsylvania Constitution. By letter of counsel, petitioner requested on April 27, 1978, that respondents register him as a "qualified retired district justice," pursuant to the provisions of Section 205 of the Reform Act. On May 15, 1978, petitioner was advised by respondents that they would not register him pursuant to Section 205, as respondents believed said section to be unconstitutional.

Petitioner filed his petition for review in this Court on May 30, 1978. On June 28, 1978, respondents filed an answer admitting all of petitioner's factual averments. Under new matter, respondents assert that: (1) the Judiciary Act Repealer Act (JARA),*fn2 42 P.S. § 20002(a)[1478], has repealed Section 205 of the Reform Act, thereby rendering this case moot; (2) the new provisions of the Judicial Code regarding assignment of senior district justices, 42 Pa. C.S. § 4122, presently afford petitioner no right either to registration or assignment; and (3) regardless of whether the provisions of Section 205 or those of 42 Pa. C.S. § 4122 apply, both sections are void because they conflict with Article V, Section 16(c), of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The case is before us upon petitioner's motion for summary judgment.

We turn initially to the question of which statutory provision is currently the law of Pennsylvania. The Reform Act became law effective July 1, 1976. The provisions of Section 205 are as follows:

[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 70]

Retired district justices, who retire subsequent to January 1, 1976, may be eligible for recall to duty by the district justice administrator at the same per diem salary as paid to a district justice serving outside of the elected Page 70} magisterial district. A qualified retired district justice, who wishes to be recalled for duty, shall register with the district justice administrator and agree to abide by any rules and regulations set forth by the administrator. Retired district justices shall not include district justices defeated ...


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