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COUNTY INVESTIGATING GRAND JURY OCTOBER 18 (05/20/83)

decided: May 20, 1983.

IN RE COUNTY INVESTIGATING GRAND JURY OF OCTOBER 18, 1982. PETITION OF RAYMOND STOUT


No. 57 E.D.Misc.Dkt. 1983, Petition for Review of the Order of the Supervising Judge of the Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury of October 18, 1982, dated March 24, 1983, Adjudicating Petitioner in Civil Contempt

COUNSEL

Andrew Cohn, Eric Henson, Asst. Dist. Attys., Philadelphia, for respondent.

Bruce L. Thall, Richard A. Sprague, Philadelphia, for petitioner.

Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Nix, J., files a concurring opinion. Zappala, J., dissents.

Author: Roberts

[ 501 Pa. Page 119]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is a petition for review of a contempt citation issued by the supervising judge of the Philadelphia Investigating Grand Jury of October 18, 1982, which is investigating the fiscal affairs of the Health and Welfare and Legal Services Trust Funds of AFSCME District Council 33. Notice of submission of the matter was presented to the supervising judge on January 12, 1983, shortly after the District Attorney of Philadelphia obtained a copy of an audit of the Funds performed by the City Controller. The audit revealed a series of interest-free loans and unexplained transfers of funds, including a payment of $16,000 to "Stout's Garage," an auto repair shop owned by petitioner Raymond Stout, whose brother, Earl Stout, is President of District Council 33. Petitioner was held in civil contempt on March 24, 1983, for refusing to testify or to produce documents in accordance with a subpoena issued by the grand jury on January 14.

Petitioner contends that the grand jury's investigation into the fiscal affairs of the Funds is improper because the matter was not among the areas of criminal activity which were specifically enumerated by the district attorney in his application to empanel a grand jury. This contention, however, is premised upon a misreading of the Investigating Grand Jury Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 4541 et seq. Whereas the Act

[ 501 Pa. Page 120]

    requires that any matter to be submitted to a grand jury be set forth in a notice of submission to the supervising judge, see 42 Pa.C.S. § 4550, the Act permits the empanelment of an investigating grand jury without specific reference to the criminal activity or activities to be investigated, see 42 Pa.C.S. § 4543(b); see generally Appeal of Washington, 490 Pa. 31, 415 A.2d 17 (1980). Indeed, if petitioner's interpretation of the Act were correct, whenever an investigating grand jury is in operation and additional criminal activity requiring grand jury resources becomes known, a new grand jury would have to be empaneled. Clearly, the Legislature did not intend so costly an expenditure of the public's time and money. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 4547 (additional grand juries may be applied for "[w]henever the attorney for the Commonwealth determines that the volume of work of an investigating grand jury exceeds the capacity of the investigating grand jury to discharge its obligations"); see also 1 Pa.C.S. § 1922(1) (Legislature does not intend an unreasonable result).

After review of all of the papers filed in connection with this proceeding, we conclude that the present subpoena was properly issued and that, as we have concluded in prior proceedings before this Court involving the investigation of the present matter, see Petition of Earl Stout, No. 44 E.D.Misc.Dkt.1983 (Pa., filed 4/5/83); Petition of Albert Johnson, et al., No. 36 E.D.Misc.Dkt.1983 (Pa., filed 3/11/83), the investigating grand jury was both properly empaneled and properly presented with the matter under investigation. Accordingly, the petition for review is denied.

Petition denied.

NIX, Justice, ...


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