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FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION v. JUDICIAL INQUIRY AND REVIEW BOARD (05/27/83)

decided: May 27, 1983.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION, THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, AND THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, PETITIONERS,
v.
JUDICIAL INQUIRY AND REVIEW BOARD



NO. 76 E.D. Misc. Dkt. 1983, Petition For Writ of Mandamus

COUNSEL

Katherine Hatton, Philadelphia, for petitioners.

Perry Bechtle, Philadelphia, for respondent.

Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Flaherty, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Larsen, and McDermott, JJ., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Hutchinson, J., files a concurring opinion. Nix, J., would grant the motion for expedited consideration of the petition and deny the motion to dismiss the petition.

Author: Zappala

[ 501 Pa. Page 130]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Petitioners, the First Amendment Coalition and Coalition members, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, request that this Court issue a writ of mandamus compelling Respondent Judicial Inquiry and Review Board to file with this Court as a public document the record of its investigation of charges against a member of the judiciary of this Commonwealth. As the Board, a constitutionally independent body, has made no recommendation to this Court of suspension, removal, discipline, or compulsory retirement in this matter, this Court is prohibited by Article

[ 501 Pa. Page 131]

V, section 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution from granting Petitioners' request. Accordingly, the petition is denied.

The present action was brought on Friday, May 6, 1983. On Wednesday, May 11, the Board filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the ground that there is no constitutional basis for the filing of the record in a case where the Board has made no recommendation of action, and on the further ground that Petitioner Philadelphia Inquirer had, on Sunday, May 8, 1983, stated in an editorial that it had obtained a full transcript of the proceedings and had begun to publish extensive verbatim excerpts of the transcript. In their answer to the motion to dismiss, Petitioners acknowledged the publication of portions of the transcript by Petitioner Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, another member of Petitioner First Amendment Coalition, but alleged that the transcript was not available to the public or to the other members of the First Amendment Coalition. According to Petitioners, "[o]ther members of the Coalition may, if the transcripts were available, publish them verbatim. Others reviewing the transcripts may find that portions unpublished to date are worthy of public notice."

The Judicial Inquiry and Review Board was created in 1968 with the adoption by the citizens of this Commonwealth of present Article V, section 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Pursuant to subsection (a) of section 18, the Board consists of nine members: three judges from different judicial districts of the court of common pleas and two judges of the Superior Court, who are appointed by the Supreme Court; and two lawyer and two non-lawyer members, who are appointed by the Governor. Pursuant to subsection (b), the members serve for a single term of four years and elect a chairman annually. Members may be removed by their respective appointing authorities only for cause.

Subsection (e) directs the Board to receive complaints and reports, formal or informal, pertaining to matters relating to the suspension, removal, discipline, or compulsory retirement of justices or judges, and to make such preliminary ...


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