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PETITION FOR REFERENDUM TO AMEND HOME RULE CHARTER CITY PITTSBURGH. THOMAS FLAHERTY (10/01/82)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: October 1, 1982.

IN RE: PETITION FOR REFERENDUM TO AMEND HOME RULE CHARTER OF CITY OF PITTSBURGH. THOMAS FLAHERTY, AN INDIVIDUAL REGISTERED VOTER ETC., APPELLANT

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In Re: Petition for Referendum to Amend Home Rule Charter of City of Pittsburgh, No. G.D. 82-14973.

COUNSEL

Thomas M. Kerr, with him Paul H. Titus, Titus, Marcus & Shapira, for appellant.

D. R. Pellegrini, City Solicitor, with him Marvin A. Fein, Deputy City Solicitor, for appellee, City of Pittsburgh.

John M. Feeney, with him Charles P. Falk, Baskin and Sears, P.C., for appellee, Ben Woods.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Craig and Doyle. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 293]

Thomas Flaherty appeals an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order sustaining Ben Woods' petition to set aside a Petition for Referendum to Amend the Home Rule Charter (Charter) of the City of Pittsburgh. We grant Woods' motion to quash the appeal.

On August 3, 1982, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) filed with

[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 294]

    the Allegheny County Board of Elections (Board) a petition to place a referendum*fn1 on the November 2, 1982 ballot. The Board certified the question, after which Woods, a city councilman, petitioned to strike the referendum. Common pleas court scheduled the matter for hearing and the City of Pittsburgh, ACORN, and the Board were duly notified. Counsel for both the City and the Board entered their respective appearances, although no appearance was entered by ACORN. Flaherty, also a councilman, entered the proceedings solely as an amicus curiae. After extensive oral argument, the court below sustained Woods' petition and directed the Board to set aside ACORN's referendum petition. Flaherty appeals and Woods motions to quash.

The issue for our determination is straightforward -- whether an individual, who has appeared solely as an amicus curiae in the court below, has standing to appeal a decision of that court.

Pa. R.A.P. 501 provides that:

Except where the right of appeal is enlarged by statute, any party who is aggrieved by an appealable order, or a fiduciary whose estate or trust is so aggrieved, may appeal therefrom. (Emphasis added.)

Although "party" is not defined in the rules of appellate procedure, the definition found at Section 102 of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. ยง 102, is instructive:*fn2

"Party." A person who commences or against whom relief is sought in a matter. The term

[ 69 Pa. Commw. Page 295]

    includes counsel for such a person who is represented by counsel.

Flaherty neither commenced this action nor was relief sought against him. Rather, he entered below solely as an amicus curiae.*fn3 Consequently, he is not a "party" and thus has no standing to appeal.*fn4

Flaherty's appeal is quashed.*fn5

Order

Ben Woods' motion to quash Thomas Flaherty's appeal from Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order No. G.D. 82-14973, dated August 16, 1982, is hereby granted.

Disposition

Appeal quashed.


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