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APPLICATION ROBERT B. SURRICK (05/06/83)

decided: May 6, 1983.

APPLICATION OF ROBERT B. SURRICK, A MEMBER OF THE JUDICIAL INQUIRY AND REVIEW BOARD. IN RE PROCEEDINGS OF THE JUDICIAL INQUIRY AND REVIEW BOARD CONCERNING "XYZ," A CERTAIN MEMBER OF THE JUDICIARY


No. 72 E.D. Misc. Dkt. 1983.

Zappala, J., joins in this Order and files a concurring opinion. Nix, J., files a dissenting opinion in which McDermott, J., joins.

[ 504 Pa. Page 25]

ORDER

AND NOW, this 6th day of May, 1983, the application of Robert B. Surrick, a member of the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board, for leave to file a petition which "attaches and discusses certain parts of the record" made in a confidential proceeding before the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board, characterized by applicant as "the XYZ proceeding" (see application attached), is denied. See Pa. Const. Art. V, § 18(h).

[ 504 Pa. Page 26]

ZAPPALA, Justice, concurring.

I join the Order of the Court.

The issue before this Court, as I perceive it, is whether a member of the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board (Board) can circumvent our Constitution, statutes and rules of court by requesting that this Court assume some control, referred to in the legal vernacular as jurisdiction, over an independent Board through the exercise of "plenary powers". A majority of this Court has properly refused such a request.

Article V, Section 18 of our Constitution creates the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board. In doing so, the citizens of this Commonwealth created a constitutionally independent Board to review the action of the members of the judiciary. According to Article V, the Board is vested with the power to receive and review complaints, and if so warranted, conduct a hearing into those matters complained of. If, after taking testimony and reviewing all the evidence, the Board is of the belief that action is required, the Board shall make such recommendations as it deems appropriate. Although Subsection (j) of Article V, Section 18 empowers this Court to prescribe rules of procedure for the Board, this power does not include the power to usurp the clear mandate of our Constitution to have a distinct and independent Board.

Pursuant to the Constitution, the Legislature has also enacted legislation regarding the creation of the Board and the powers it shall have. (See the Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 586 No. 142 § 2, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 2101.) According to Section 2105 of the Act, the Board shall have only those powers vested by law.

Both this Court and the Legislature have enacted specific rules by which this Board is to proceed. By statute, the

[ 504 Pa. Page 27]

Board must thoroughly investigate the matters complained of and for good cause recommend disciplinary action to this Court. (See the Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 586, No. 142 § 2, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 3331 et seq.) Similarly, this Court has adopted specific rules by which the Board is to act. (See Rules of Procedure Governing the Judicial Inquiry and Review Board.) Therefore, it is not the constitutional mandate or duty of this Court ...


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