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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DENNIS ROBERT ROSSER (06/29/79)

decided: June 29, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, COUNTY OF LANCASTER, APPELLANT,
v.
DENNIS ROBERT ROSSER, JR.



No. 2019 October Term 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Criminal Section, No. 71 June Term 1968 and No. 1025 of 1970.

COUNSEL

Stephen M. Kraybill, Lancaster, for appellant.

Thomas E. Harting, Lancaster, for appellee.

Price, Spaeth and Lipez, JJ.

Author: Spaeth

[ 268 Pa. Super. Page 118]

This is an appeal from an order discharging a rule to show cause why appellee should not be held in contempt for failure to pay fines and costs.

The fines and costs were imposed because of two drug offenses.*fn1 On October 24, 1969, appellant was sentenced to 3 months to 2 years in prison, and ordered to pay a fine of $200 and costs of $145.20. On January 13, 1971, appellant was sentenced to 6 to 12 months in prison, and ordered to pay a fine of $25 and costs of $79.50. Appellee served time in prison on both sentences, and was paroled, and parole on both sentences has expired. He did not, however, pay any amount on the fines and costs.

On January 3, 1978, the county petitioned for a rule to show cause why appellee should not be held in contempt for failure to pay the fines and costs. Appellee's financial records were subpoenaed. At a hearing on January 30, 1978, before any evidence of the willfulness of the nonpayment was presented, appellee moved to quash the subpoena, objected to the demand that he testify as on cross-examination, and objected to the propriety of the contempt proceedings

[ 268 Pa. Super. Page 119]

    in general. The hearing went no further. On June 15, 1978, the lower court discharged the rule. This appeal followed.

In its opinion, the lower court regarded the payment of the fines and costs as a condition of appellant's parole, and held that the county, in waiting until more than nine years after imposition of the first sentence, and more than six years after the second,*fn2 had violated the requirement that enforcement of parole violations occur with reasonable promptness.*fn3 See generally, Commonwealth v. Waters, 252 Pa. Super. 357, 381 A.2d 957 (1977); Pa.R.Crim.P. 1409. We note that at the hearing the director of the county bureau of collections testified that appellee had been sent a letter on June 7, 1977, and that telephone calls had been made, at unspecified times. N.T. 6-7. However, assuming, without deciding, that the county should have acted more promptly, we nevertheless find the lower court's analysis in error.

In Commonwealth ex rel. Banks v. Cain, 345 Pa. 581, 28 A.2d 897 (1942), the Supreme Court, in upholding the constitutionality of the newly passed Parole Act, Act of Aug. 6, 1941, P.L. 861, §§ 1-34, 61 P.S. §§ 331.1-331.34, took the occasion to examine the relationship between parole procedures and procedures to enforce the payment of fines:

Much attention was devoted by the court below to the possible effect of the act on cases where fines or costs of prosecution are imposed as part of the sentence. But the law in regard to fines and costs is not affected by the act . . . . The Board of Parole is given no authority concerning the payment of fines and costs, although, of course, it may, if it so desire, make such payment a condition precedent to the granting or the continuance of ...


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