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A. SWARTZ AND R. SWARTZ v. PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY (12/29/81)

decided: December 29, 1981.

A. SWARTZ AND R. SWARTZ, APPELLANTS
v.
PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In the matter of Condemnation by Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh of certain land in the Fourth Ward of the City of Pittsburgh, being property now or formerly of Ann Swartz and Rebecca Swartz, No. G.D. 79-25361.

COUNSEL

Dennis R. Joyce, for appellant.

Leonard M. Mendelson, with him William R. Grove, Jr., Hollinshead and Mendelson, for appellee.

Judges Williams, Jr., MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 435]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County dismissing the preliminary objections of Ann and Rebecca Swartz (Appellants) to a Declaration of Taking filed September 20, 1979, by the Public Parking Authority of

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 436]

Pittsburgh (Authority). The subject property involves two parcels of land located on the southwest corner of Centre Avenue and North Craig Street. We affirm.

The Appellants have raised numerous objections to the decision below. Before examining the substantive issues raised by the preliminary objections, we must initially determine whether the Appellants were accorded a fair hearing by the Common Pleas Court. One of the primary allegations made by the Appellants is that the denial of a continuance until the Appellants received transcripts of prior hearings, and the subsequent closing of the hearing when the Appellants refused to continue with their case, denied them due process of law. The decision of whether to grant a continuance is a matter within the discretion of the lower court, see Kopec v. Redevelopment Authority of the City of Hazleton, 27 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 515, 517-18, 367 A.2d 784, 786 (1976), and will not be disturbed on review absent a manifest abuse of discretion. Id. An examination of the record leads us to believe the trial court was within its discretionary power to deny a further continuance. The case had already taken two days of hearings with over 400 pages of testimony. The case was conducted almost entirely by Ann Swartz, one of the Appellants, who presented no evidence in the record to show she was in any way hindered from proceeding that day with her case in chief.*fn1 Thus, we can find no abuse of discretion in the Court's refusal to grant a continuance.*fn2

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 437]

Appellants also have argued that they should not have been ordered to proceed in the case when their counsel of record moved the Court that morning for, and was granted, permission to withdraw from the case. In view of the previously mentioned fact that Ann Swartz conducted the case herself, and again failed to show to the lower court any disadvantage to the Appellants in being ordered to continue,*fn3 we find no denial of due process.

Appellants have complained to this Court about the quashing of subpoenas issued to Parking Authority and City Council members, as well as the subpoenas of a city businessman and state senator. Again, this Court's standard of review of the trial court's action is abuse of discretion. As the Appellants failed to show how the testimony of these persons would be relevant to their case,*fn4 we find no abuse of discretion in quashing these subpoenas.*fn5

Finally, the Appellants claim that the trial court was biased against them and thus deprived them of a fair hearing. The Appellants have not directed our attention to any instances or statements by the lower court showing bias. Our own reading of the record leads us to believe that the lower court in fact gave the Appellants every chance to prove ...


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