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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BRYAN LEE STEVENS (08/11/86)

decided: August 11, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, BUREAU OF TRAFFIC SAFETY, APPELLANT
v.
BRYAN LEE STEVENS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Bryan Lee Stevens, No. 109-P, Misc. Term, 1983.

COUNSEL

Stephen F. J. Martin, Assistant Counsel, with him, Harold Cramer, Assistant Counsel, Spencer A. Manthorpe, Chief Counsel, and Jay C. Waldman, General Counsel, for appellant.

Michael R. Perna, Rigler and Perna, for appellee.

Judges Rogers and Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 564]

The Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety (Department) appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County which sustained the appeal of Bryan Lee Stevens (Appellee) from the Department's suspension of his operating privilege pursuant to Section 1539 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. ยง 1539 (accumulation of eleven points).

At a hearing before the court of common pleas on June 2, 1983 the Department, as proof of the underlying convictions supporting Appellee's license suspension, offered into evidence photocopies of three citations for speeding violations which were issued to Appellee on April 3, 1982, October 23, 1982 and November 24, 1982, along with photocopies of the certifications of disposition which appeared on the reverse of each citation. These photocopies were offered under cover of a separate

[ 99 Pa. Commw. Page 565]

    statement signed and sealed by the Director of the Bureau of Traffic Safety Operations and the Secretary of Transportation, certifying that they were full, true, correct and certified photostatic copies of the original citations and certifications.

Appellee's counsel objected to the admission of this evidence, and the trial court sustained his objection on the grounds that the court was unable to discern the raised impression of the district justice's seal on two of the three certifications. The hearing was continued to allow the Department the opportunity to obtain more legible copies.

At the reconvened hearing on September 1, 1983, the Department reoffered the same proofs of conviction and cited a case to the court, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety v. Kluger, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 460, 310 A.2d 455 (1974), opinion on reargument, 12 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 460, 317 A.2d 686 (1974), for the proposition that even where the imprinted seal is not visible on a photocopy, so long as the copy is proper on its face and is certified by the Bureau, it is sufficient proof of conviction.

The court accepted Kluger as controlling and admitted the records (as Exhibit C-1) into evidence. Although counsel for Appellee continued to object on the record, he makes no argument before this Court on the basis of this objection, and in fact, states in his brief that "the court correctly accepted the[se] records into evidence."

The matter might have been concluded at this point had the Department not indicated to the court that it had gone one step further and also obtained copies of the original citations and certifications directly from the office of the district justice. These copies were also offered into evidence (as Exhibit C-2) and were objected to by counsel for ...


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