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CARBONDALE TOWNSHIP v. LEO A. MURRAY AND SCRANTON TIMES (02/08/82)

decided: February 8, 1982.

CARBONDALE TOWNSHIP, LOUIS ROGARI, JOSEPH CAVAGE AND JOSEPH BROWN, APPELLANTS
v.
LEO A. MURRAY AND THE SCRANTON TIMES, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in the case of Leo A. Murray, 123 Spruce Street, Archbald, Pennsylvania; and The Scranton Times, Penn Avenue & Spruce Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania v. Carbondale Township, 501 Main Street, Childs, Pennsylvania; Louis Rogari, Chairman, Board of Supervisors, Carbondale Township, 188 Gordon Avenue, Carbondale, Pennsylvania 18407; Joseph Cavage, Member, Board of Supervisors, Carbondale Township, 17 Roosevelt Highway, Whites Crossing, Carbondale, Pennsylvania 18407; Joseph Brown, Member, Board of Supervisors, Carbondale Township, Lees Crossing, Childs, Pennsylvania, No. 68 of 1980.

COUNSEL

Thomas P. Kennedy, with him Francis J. Wormuth, Kennedy, Hodin, Wormuth, for appellants.

James J. Haggerty, with him Joseph J. O'Brien, Jr., for appellees.

Judges Mencer, Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Mencer

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 466]

Leo Murray, a reporter for The Scranton Times, a daily newspaper of general circulation, requested certain officials of Carbondale Township to make available to him for inspection and copying the Township's cancelled checks on the Road Account and Payroll Account and the disbursements for the years 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1980.

On July 23, 1980, after repeated requests were denied, Mr. Murray and the newspaper (petitioners) filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County asserting their right to the information

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 467]

    sought on the basis that cancelled checks and disbursement records*fn1 are public records as defined in Section 1(2) of the so-called Right-to-Know Law (Act), Act of June 21, 1957, P.L. 390, as amended, 65 P.S. ยง 66.1(2):

(2) 'Public Record.' Any account, voucher or contract dealing with the receipt or disbursement of funds by an agency or its acquisition, use or disposal of services or of supplies, materials, equipment or other property and any minute, order or decision by an agency fixing the personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties or obligations of any person or group of persons: Provided, That the term 'public records' shall not mean any report, communication or other paper, the publication of which would disclose the institution, progress or result of an investigation undertaken by an agency in the performance of its official duties, except those reports filed by agencies pertaining to safety and health in industrial plants; it shall not include any record, document, material, exhibit, pleading, report, memorandum or other paper, access to or the publication of which is prohibited, restricted or forbidden by statute law or order or decree of court, or which would operate to the prejudice or impairment of a person's reputation or personal security, or which would result in the loss by the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions or commissions or State or municipal authorities of Federal funds, excepting

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 468]

    therefrom however the record of any conviction for any criminal act.

The Act provides that every public record shall be open for examination and inspection. The cancelled checks here are, without question, accounts dealing with the disbursement of funds, a category of document within the Act's definition of public records. See Moak v. ...


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