Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County in case of Lebanon News Publishing Company, d/b/a Lebanon Daily News v. The City of Lebanon; Donald Griffith, Mayor; Martin Schneider, Councilman; Betty Schultz, Councilwoman; Betty Eiceman, Councilwoman; Thomas Edkin, Councilman; and George Gruber, Chief of Police, No. 43-1980.
Robert W. Feeman, with him Loren A. Schrum, Egli, Reilly, Wolfson and Feeman, for appellant.
Samuel G. Weiss, Jr., Weiss, Weiss & Weiss, for appellees.
Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr. and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
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Lebanon News Publishing Co., d/b/a Lebanon Daily News (Appellant) has appealed from an order
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of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County which sustained a demurrer to its complaint in equity, as amended, and ordered the action dismissed.
Appellant filed a complaint in equity with the trial court on November 26, 1980 alleging, inter alia, that Appellees*fn1 had denied Appellant direct access to previously available "police blotters", "police logs", "radio room logs" or other original records of entry compiled chronologically and maintained by the Lebanon Police Department (Department). The complaint further alleges that the denial of access, which also occurred on November 26, 1980, was pursuant to an order of the Chief of Police which provided that such information would henceforth be made available to the public through news releases prepared by the Department. Appellant sought damages and injunctive relief pursuant to Section 9183 of the Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRI Act), 18 Pa. C.S. § 9183, to compel Appellees to provide direct access to the requested information.
In response to Appellees' preliminary objections to the complaint, Appellant filed an amended complaint to which additional preliminary objections, in the nature of a demurrer, were filed. The trial court sustained the demurrer on the ground that Appellant had failed to pursue its exclusive statutory remedy under Section 4 of the Act of June 21, 1957 (Right-to-Know Act), P.L. 390, as amended, 65 P.S. § 66.4. Appellant perfected its appeal to this Court following the dismissal of its equity action.
Two issues have been presented for our consideration: whether or not the CHRI Act requires that police blotters be made available to the public, and, if
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so, whether the CHRI Act provides a remedy where access to such information is denied. The trial court states in its opinion that Appellant "abandons its quest for access to all records referred to in its complaint save police blotters." Lebanon News Publishing Co. v. City of Lebanon, (No. 43 Civil Action -- Equity 1980, filed June 17, 1981), slip op. at ...