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NOMINATION PETITION MARITZA TORRES AS DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR OFFICE MEMBER WARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR 19TH WARD (05/12/86)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: May 12, 1986.

IN RE: NOMINATION PETITION OF MARITZA TORRES AS DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF MEMBER OF THE WARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR THE 19TH WARD, 1ST DIVISION. MARITZA TORRES, APPELLANT. IN RE: NOMINATION PETITION OF ANGEL R. RIVERA AS DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF MEMBER OF THE WARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR THE 19TH WARD, 5TH DIVISION. ANGEL R. RIVERA, APPELLANT. IN RE: NOMINATION PETITION OF SAMUEL GARCIA AS DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF MEMBER OF THE WARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR THE 19TH WARD, 3RD DIVISION. SAMUEL GARCIA, APPELLANT. IN RE: NOMINATION PETITION OF NEREIDA COLON AS DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF MEMBER OF THE WARD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FOR THE 19TH WARD, 10TH DIVISION. NEREIDA COLON, APPELLANT

Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Maritza Torres, No. 5166 March Term, 1986; Angel R. Rivera, No. 5168 March Term, 1986; Samuel Garcia, No. 5769 March Term, 1986, and Nereida Colon, No. 5184 March Term, 1986.

COUNSEL

Robert J. Mulligan, Robert J. Mulligan, Inc., P.C., for appellants.

Mark Jurikson, for appellees, Arthur Noe and Roberto Arle.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Senior Judges Barbieri and Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish.

Author: Kalish

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 174]

Maritza Torres (appellant) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County which set aside her nomination petition. We reverse.*fn1

On March 11, 1986, the appellant filed a nomination petition to have her name placed on the ballot as Democratic Candidate for the Office of Member of the Ward

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 175]

Executive Committee for the 19th Ward, 1st Division of the City and County of Philadelphia. Under section 977 of the Pennsylvania Election Code (Election Code), Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1333, as amended, 25 P.S. § 2937, objections to nomination petitions must be filed within seven days after the last day for filing nomination petitions. By oral order, Administrative Judge Charles Mirarchi extended the deadline for filing objections for an additional seven days, until March 25, 1986. On that date, the appellee, Judith Alvarez, filed a petition to set aside the appellant's nomination petition. Following a hearing, the trial court ordered that the appellant's nomination petition be stricken because only six signatures were valid.

The appellant contends that the statutory deadline for filing objections to nomination petitions set forth in section 977 of the Election Code, 25 P.S. § 2937, is mandatory, and that Administrative Judge Mirarchi was without authority to extend the deadline for filing objections. The appellant further contends that the trial judge did not apply the correct standard in evaluating the handwriting of the signers of the nomination petition.

The pertinent portion of section 977 of the Election Code, 25 P.S. § 2937 provides:

All nomination petitions and papers received and filed within the periods limited by this act shall be deemed to be valid, unless, within seven days after the last day for filing said nomination petition or paper, a petition is presented to the court specifically setting forth the objections thereto, and praying that the said petition or paper be set aside.

The appellee cites Moore Nomination Petition, 447 Pa. 526, 291 A.2d 531 (1972), for the proposition that the time deadline for filing challenges to nomination

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 176]

    petitions is directory and not mandatory. In Moore, an objection to the nomination petition in question was timely filed. However, the trial judge continued the hearing beyond the ten day limit set forth in section 977. There, the court held that the portion of section 977 requiring the court to fix a time for hearing not later than ten days after the last day for filing the nomination petition is directory. However, that holding did not extend to the requirement that objections be filed within seven days.

In American Labor Party Case, 352 Pa. 576, 44 A.2d 48 (1945), the court held that the requirement that objections to nomination petitions be filed within seven days is mandatory. Moreover, the courts have no power to waive or dispense with a statutorily prescribed time limit. Id. Nowhere in the record is there a transcript of the proceedings or events that transpired before Judge Mirarchi. In the absence of a showing of some extraordinary circumstance, such as fraud, or the breakdown of the judicial process, a court cannot extend the legislatively mandated time limit. It is the opinion of this court that Judge Mirarchi was without authority to extend the deadline for filing objections to nomination petitions. We therefore hold that the order of Judge Mirarchi is null and void.

Having determined that Judge Mirarchi's order is null and void, we must hold that the appellee's objection was not timely filed. Thus, we need not address the appellant's remaining argument.*fn2 Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's order setting aside the nomination petition of Maritza Torres.

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 177]

Order in 1262 C.D. 1986

Now, May 12, 1986, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 5166 March Term 1986, dated April 4, 1986, is reversed.

The Prothonotary is ordered to immediately notify the Philadelphia County Board of Elections that the name Maritza Torres is to be certified and reinstated on the May 20, 1986 primary ballot as a candidate for the office of the Ward Executive Committee of the Democratic Party, from the 19th Ward, 1st Division, of the City and County of Philadelphia.

Order in 1263 C.D. 1986

Now, May 12, 1986, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 5168 March Term 1986, dated April 4, 1986, is reversed.

The Prothonotary is ordered to immediately notify the Philadelphia County Board of Elections that the name Angel R. Rivera is to be certified and reinstated on the May 20, 1986 primary ballot as a candidate for the office of the Ward Executive Committee of the Democratic Party, from the 19th Ward, 5th Division, of the City and County of Philadelphia.

Order in 1264 C.D. 1986

Now, May 12, 1986, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 5769 March Term 1986, dated April 4, 1986, is reversed.

The Prothonotary is ordered to immediately notify the Philadelphia County Board of Elections that the

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 178]

    name Samuel Garcia is to be certified and reinstated on the May 20, 1986 primary ballot as a candidate for the office of the Ward Executive Committee of the Democratic Party, from the 19th Ward, 3rd Division, of the City and County of Philadelphia.

Order in 1265 C.D. 1986

Now, May 12, 1986, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, No. 5184 March Term 1986, dated April 4, 1986, is reversed.

The Prothonotary is ordered to immediately notify the Philadelphia County Board of Elections that the name Nereida Colon is to be certified and reinstated on the May 20, 1986 primary ballot as a candidate for the office of the Ward Executive Committee of the Democratic Party, from the 19th Ward, 10th Division, of the City and County of Philadelphia.

Disposition

Reversed.


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