Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, in case of In Re: Nomination petition of Anthony A. Shuli, No. 482 of 1987.
Robert L. Webster, Jr., Webster & Webster, for appellant.
Joseph M. George, with him, Mark D. Brooks, Margolis, George & Port, for appellee.
Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 463]
Michael J. Defino appeals from an order of the Common Pleas Court of Fayette County which dismissed his petition challenging the nominating petition of Anthony A. Shuli. The Common Pleas Court's order directed that Mr. Shuli's name be placed on the ballot as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the primary for the office of District Justice for District 14-3-03. We reverse.
The Common Pleas Court found, after an evidentiary hearing, that Mr. Shuli's nominating petition did not contain the requisite number of valid signatures. The Court refused to invalidate Mr. Shuli's petition, however, because it concluded that Mr. Defino lacked standing to challenge the petition.
The standard which this Court must apply in determining whether a party has standing to challenge a nominating petition was set forth in Appeal of Robert C. Barlip, 59 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 178, 428 A.2d 1058 (1981):
Section 977 of the Pennsylvania Election Code, 25 P.S. § 2937, which outlines the procedure to challenge and set aside a candidate's nominating petition, does not specify those persons who have standing to object to a nominating petition. In the absence of a specific provision for standing, therefore, we are guided by the general rules of standing as set forth by the Supreme Court in Wm. Penn Parking Garage, Inc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 464 Pa. 168, 346 A.2d 269 (1975), and the core requirements of these rules are that the complainant must have an interest in the controversy which is greater than the abstract interest of the general citizenry in obtaining compliance with the law, and that there must be a
[ 105 Pa. Commw. Page 464]
direct causal connection between the act complained of and the harm alleged.
Id. at 181, 428 A.2d at 1059-60 (footnotes omitted). The Common Pleas Court held that Mr. Defino did not show that he had standing because he
did not offer any evidence, through his own testimony or any witness on his behalf, that he is a duly registered and enrolled elector of the Magisterial District 14-3-03, or that he had filed a nomination petition for the position of District Justice for District 14-3-03, nor was the Court asked to take judicial notice ...