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FRANK E. SENK v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/02/87)

decided: March 2, 1987.

FRANK E. SENK, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, BOARD OF PARDONS, AN AGENCY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENT



Original Jurisdiction and Appeal in the case of Frank E. Senk v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Board of Pardons, an Agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Eduardo C. Robreno, for petitioner.

Francis R. Filipi, Senior Deputy Attorney General, with him, Andrew S. Gordon, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Barry and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish.

Author: Kalish

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 271]

In his petition for review, Frank Senk seeks review of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons' (Board) denial of his request to be advised of the basis for denial of his application for commutation. Now before this court is

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 272]

    petitioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings and the Board's cross motion for judgment on the pleadings. We grant the Board's motion for judgment on the pleadings and deny petitioner's motion.

Initially, we note that the court's consideration of a party's motion for judgment on the pleadings is limited to well-pleaded facts, admissions and documents properly attached to the pleadings. Balush v. Borough of Norristown, 292 Pa. Superior Ct. 416, 437 A.2d 453 (1981).

Petitioner is serving a life sentence in the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. He has been incarcerated for about twenty-three years. In that time he has had ten unsuccessful commutation hearings before the Board and has never been given reasons for the Board's actions. He had requested of the Board "any and all documents, letters, memoranda and files" to discover the reasons for the denials of his applications. The Board denied his request. Petitioner now requests, of this court, that it direct the Board to provide duly-recorded reasons for its denial and to permit petitioner to inspect the files and records regarding his case.

Petitioner asserts that he has the right to inspect these documents pursuant to the Constitution of Pennsylvania which provides that "the Board shall keep records of its actions, which shall at all times be open for public inspection." PA. CONST. art. IV, § 9(b) (amended 1975). The Board, however, correctly points out that it is the action of the commutation which must be recorded and made available to the public and not the reasons for said action. In subsection (a) of the same section, it is clear that the duty to state the reason for the Board's decision arises only when there is a recommendation for commutation. PA. CONST. art. IV, § 9(a), states:

[B]ut no pardon shall be granted, nor sentence commuted, except on ...


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