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CITY PHILADELPHIA v. JOHN DOE. HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION PHILADELPHIA (HAPCO) ON BEHALF JOHN DOE (08/24/79)

decided: August 24, 1979.

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA
v.
JOHN DOE. THE HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION OF PHILADELPHIA (HAPCO) ON BEHALF OF JOHN DOE, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of City of Philadelphia v. John Doe, No. 210 January Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Barry A. Cohen, for appellant.

Stewart M. Weintraub, Deputy City Solicitor, with him Sheldon L. Albert, City Solicitor, and Beryl E. Hoffman, Deputy City Solicitor, for appellee.

Michael Churchill and Albert J. Slap, for amici curiae, Philadelphia Council of Neighborhood Organizations and Father Joseph M. Kakalec.

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

Author: Bowman

[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 226]

This appeal arises out of attempts by various groups and individuals to gain access to delinquent

[ 45 Pa. Commw. Page 227]

    real estate tax records compiled by the Revenue Department of the City of Philadelphia.

The case had its genesis in the latter part of 1977 when certain individuals, joined by the Philadelphia Council of Neighborhood Organizations (PCNO), requested of the Revenue Department public access to the above records. The City, relying on Section 5-1104 of The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter (Charter), 351 Pa. Code § 5.5-1104, The Philadelphia Code (Code) § 19-505(2), and Section 307 of Philadelphia's General Tax Regulations, initially denied the requests.

The City proceeded, however, to file a petition for declaratory judgment with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, invoking the same Charter section and accompanying regulations, now seeking a declaration that it be entitled to disclose the list of delinquent real estate taxpayers. Named as the only defendant in this action was one "John Doe."

The lower court thereupon issued a rule upon "defendant" to show cause why the petition should not be granted and directed weekly advertisement, whereupon the instant appellant, Homeowners Association of Philadelphia County (HAPCO), appeared to object to the relief sought by the City.

On March 9, 1978, the lower court issued an order declaring the official records of delinquent real estate taxpayers to be public records, and ordered that public access thereto be granted. This order was amended the next day so as to grant public ...


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