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LOU HOFFMAN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/11/83)

decided: January 11, 1983.

LOU HOFFMAN, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Game Commission in case of In Re: Pennsylvania Game News -- List of Subscribers, July 29, 1982.

COUNSEL

Steven J. Schiffman, Serratelli & Schiffman, with him Robert E. Rains, Rains & Jacobson, for petitioner.

Stuart M. Bliwas, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 100]

One of our key statutes allowing citizens to see the records created through tax expenditures is the traditionally-named Right-To-Know Law, Act of June 21, 1957, P.L. 390, as amended, which in Section 2 simply and clearly states:

Every public record of an agency, shall at reasonable times, be open for examination and inspection by any citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

65 P.S. § 66.2.

Petitioner Hoffman wrote to the executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission requesting an opportunity to inspect and copy the subscriber mailing list for the Pennsylvania Game News, a state magazine expressly authorized by the Game Law, the Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1225, as amended, § 205, 34 P.S. § 1311.205, as one of the "bulletins" or items of "literature" which "may be necessary to the work of the commission. . . ." Mr. Hoffman's letter offered reimbursement for reasonable costs incurred in the reproduction of the subscribers' list, asking to discuss the format in which the material might be available.

In a prompt replying letter, the chief counsel of the commission, after expressly stating that the letter had been referred to him for reply, refused the request on

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 101]

    the ground that the publication of the Pennsylvania Game News is a "proprietary" function, adding:

If you disagree with my opinion, you, of course, have the privilege of initiating such litigation as to a final determination of the legal issues involved. However, I should point out to you that in the event it appears that my position is legally incorrect at the first level of litigation, in the ensuing years for which it will take to come to a final decision within the second ...


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