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INMATES CUMBERLAND COUNTY PRISON ET AL. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/06/83)

decided: January 6, 1983.

INMATES OF THE CUMBERLAND COUNTY PRISON ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ET AL., RESPONDENTS. ALLAN BOWERMASTER ET AL., INTERVENING PARTY PETITIONERS



Appeals in cases of Inmates of Cumberland County Prison, and Individually, Ralph R. Burns, Janice Mason, David M. Kurtz and Wanda Myers v. Department of Justice of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Correction of Pennsylvania, Special Services Division of the Bureau of Correction of Pennsylvania; and Inmates of Cumberland County Prison and Individually, Allan Bowermaster and David M. Kurtz v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Justice.

COUNSEL

Samuel W. Milkes, with him Laurence E. Norton, II, for petitioners.

Roy T. Stegena, Assistant Counsel, with him Sherree L. Sturgis, Chief Council, for respondents.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 59]

Before this Court are the consolidated appeals of various inmates (Petitioners) of the Cumberland County Prison (Prison) from classification determinations made by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Correction, Special Services Division (Bureau). These classifications, made pursuant to the Bureau's duty under Section 3(4) of Act 502 of 1965 (Act 502), Act of December 27, 1965, P.L. 1237, as amended, 61 P.S. § 460.3(4),*fn1 permitted the Prison to accept prisoners with

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 60]

    sentences up to five years less one day. Petitioners complain that such a classification was an abuse of discretion and in total disregard of the Bureau's findings regarding the Prison.

Facts

Initially, various inmates of the Prison filed a mandamus action in this Court in 1980, seeking, inter alia, a classification of the Prison in accordance with the standards (Minimum Standards) for county prisons adopted by the Department of Justice. 37 Pa. Code §§ 95.221-.248.*fn2 By order entered July 11, 1980,*fn3 this Court directed the Bureau to classify the Prison in accordance with those Minimum Standards.

Pursuant to that Order the Director of the Bureau's Special Services Division, by letter dated July 25, 1980, certified the prison as approved to accept prisoners with sentences up to five years less one day. Petitioners then filed case No. 1996 C.D. 1980 (1980 classification) as an appeal from that certification. Another inspection was performed by the Bureau in 1981, with the issuance of a new certification on December 4, 1981, again approving the Prison to accept prisoners with sentences up to five years less one day. Case No. 812 C.D. 1982 (1981 classification) was then filed to review this second certification. Numerous motions have been filed by both sides and disposed of by orders of this Court previous to argument on the merits.

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 61]

Basis and Scope of Review

Before discussing the central issue of this appeal, a discussion of this Court's power to hear the appeal is in order. The parties do not contest the fact that this Court, pursuant to Section 763(a)(1) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. § 763(a)(1), has jurisdiction of all appeals from final orders of Commonwealth agencies in any case "under Subchapter A of Chapter 7 of Title 2 . . . or otherwise." Of course, this section only vests jurisdiction of appeals in this Court; it does not operate to give to a person a right of appeal. LaCamera v. Board of Probation and Parole, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 85, 317 A.2d 925 (1974). Therefore, in order for this Court to act, Petitioners must have a right to appeal the classifications.

In support of their claimed right of appeal, Petitioners rely upon Section 702 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 702. That section provides: "Any person aggrieved by an adjudication of a Commonwealth agency who has a direct interest in such adjudication shall have the right to appeal therefrom. . . ." For Petitioners to have a right of appeal under this section, two distinct matters must be shown. First of all, there must be an adjudication. Adjudication is defined in the Administrative Agency Law as "Any final order, decree, decision, determination or ruling by an agency affecting personal or property rights, privileges, immunities, duties, liabilities or obligations of any or all of the parties to the proceeding in which the adjudication is made." 2 Pa. C.S. § 101. Quite clearly, these decisions of the Bureau which certified the Prison as able to accept prisoners up to the five year maximum term for county jails*fn4 is a "final . . . decision . . . affecting . . . privileges, . . . duties . . . or obligations" of the Prison. Certainly if a decision adverse

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 62]

    to the Prison had been issued by the Bureau, the Prison Board could have appealed the decision under the Administrative Agency Law. See County of York v. Department of Labor and Industry, Industrial Board, 43 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 124, 401 A.2d 885 (1979). Thus, the first requirement of 2 Pa. C.S. § 702 has been met.

The second standard of Section 702 which must be shown is that the Petitioners are "person[s] aggrieved . . . who [have] a direct interest in such adjudication." Initially, we note that this provision encompasses aggrieved persons, not solely aggrieved parties ; therefore, the fact that Petitioners were not parties to the Bureau's proceedings would not in itself bar Petitioners from appealing from the adjudication. Official Court Reporters v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 256, 264, 446 A.2d 1357, 1360-61 (1982).*fn5 As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently stated: "[P]ursuant to Section 702, we must inquire whether, under traditional concepts of standing, ...


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