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PAUL R. BECKERT v. ANDREW L. WARREN ET AL. (05/26/81)

decided: May 26, 1981.

PAUL R. BECKERT, PRESIDENT JUDGE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THE JUDGES OF THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF BUCKS COUNTY, PA., PLAINTIFFS
v.
ANDREW L. WARREN ET AL., DEFENDANTS



Original jurisdiction in case of Paul R. Beckert, President Judge, Individually and on behalf of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Pennsylvania v. Andrew L. Warren, Elaine P. Zettick and Carl F. Fonash, County Commissioners and Members of the Bucks County Salary Board; and Ward F. Clark, Esquire, Controller and Member of the Bucks County Salary Board; and William P. Snyder, Treasurer of the County of Bucks; and Paul R. Beckert, President Judge, as a Member of the Bucks County Salary Board.

COUNSEL

Henry I. Reath, with him Michael M. Baylson, George E. Pierce, Jr., and Eric H. Auerbach, Duane, Morris & Heckscher, for plaintiffs.

Robert L. White, for defendants.

Honorable Charles P. Mirarchi, Jr., for Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges.

Judges Blatt, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 241]

The judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, acting through their President Judge Paul R. Beckert, as the plaintiffs, instituted this equity case in their own court December 30, 1980, to enjoin the Bucks County Commissioners and Salary Board members, as defendants, from adopting a county budget for 1981 unless the budget contained fully the funding for court personnel and programs which

[ 59 Pa. Commw. Page 242]

    had been requested by the court and considered necessary by it to carry out its mandated responsibilities under the constitution and laws. On the same date, Judge Robert A. Freedberg of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, specially assigned, heard testimony from the plaintiffs and argument from counsel for the defendants, and issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the defendants from adopting a 1981 budget or manning tables for Bucks County without including the requested court funding and personnel positions.

On December 31, 1980, the county obtained a writ or order of Justice Larsen of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, vacating the preliminary injunction. The county immediately proceeded to adopt a 1981 Bucks County budget and manning tables, without fulfilling the plaintiffs' requests.

In addition to filing proceedings in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to set aside Justice Larsen's order, the plaintiffs also filed in the Supreme Court a "Petition That This Court [the Pennsylvania Supreme Court] Assume Plenary Jurisdiction," pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. § 726.

The relief which the plaintiffs requested in that petition was that the Supreme Court

     forthwith direct that an administrative hearing be held that will provide the County Commissioners, . . . with an opportunity to present testimony and arguments, with the right of rebuttal by your Petitioner, as to why the budget ...


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