Original jurisdiction in the case of United States Steel Corporation, a corporation v. The Honorable Nicholas P. Papadakos, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.
Richard T. Wentley, with him E. W. Seifert and Anthony J. Basinski, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for petitioner.
Charles W. Johns, with him Howland W. Abramson, for respondent.
Judge Williams, Jr. Memorandum Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.
[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 214]
In accordance with Pa. R.A.P. 1925(a), this memorandum opinion was written to support the Order of this Court dated October 27, 1981, which granted a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by the Honorable Nicholas P. Papadakos.
In the recent past, Judge Papadakos has made public statements which have been interpreted by some, including the United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel), as indicating his desire to see assessments raised on certain properties owned by U.S. Steel. When those values were increased, in the course of an area-wide reassessment, U.S. Steel appealed that determination to the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County (Board), and ultimately to the Common Pleas Court. Judge
[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 215]
Papadakos, who functioned in that tribunal as the assignment judge, directed the case to his own list.*fn1
When Judge Papadakos denied U.S. Steel's request that he recuse himself, the corporation filed a Petition for Review in the Nature of a Writ of Mandamus or Alternatively a Writ of Prohibition in this Court, praying that we either order the judge to step aside, or that we prohibit him from presiding over the assessment appeal. The corporation subsequently filed a petition before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, requesting that that body take extraordinary jurisdiction of the case. By Order of September 11, 1981, the Supreme Court denied the petition, and directed this Court to decide the matter expeditiously. Judge Papadakos then filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in this Court, asserting that neither a writ of mandamus nor a writ of prohibition constitutes a viable legal method to obtain a recusal.
It is axiomatic that mandamus
is an extraordinary writ which lies to compel the performance of a ministerial act or mandatory duty where there is a clear legal right in the plaintiff, a corresponding duty in the ...