Original Jurisdiction in case of Purcell Bronson v. Francis R. Filipi, et al.
Purcell Bronson, petitioner, for himself.
LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, with him, Thomas B. York, Deputy Attorney General, and Andrew S. Gordon, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief of Litigation Section, for respondents.
Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.
[ 107 Pa. Commw. Page 591]
Petitioner, Purcell Bronson, filed a petition for review invoking this Court's original jurisdiction pursuant to Section 761 of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. § 761, seeking declaratory relief against several named respondents,*fn1 all of whom are Assistant Attorneys General of this Commonwealth. Respondents have filed preliminary objections to the petition for review in which they challenge the sufficiency of the service of the petition, Bronson's standing; and a general demurrer to the petition. It is respondents' preliminary objections that are before this Court.
A brief recitation of the factual background of Bronson's petition is helpful in disposing of the preliminary
[ 107 Pa. Commw. Page 592]
objections. Bronson has apparently filed a number of lawsuits in federal court alleging various civil rights violations against employees and officials of the Commonwealth's Department of Corrections (Department). Bronson is currently an inmate at a state correctional institution under the jurisdiction of the Department. The named respondents have all entered their appearances in federal court on behalf of the defendant-employees and officials in federal court. By this action, Bronson seeks declaratory relief from this Court that under the Commonwealth Attorney's Act, Act of October 15, 1980, P.L. 950, 71 P.S. §§ 732-101 -- 732-506, the Attorney General's Office has no statutory duty to represent Commonwealth employees or officials in civil rights actions. Bronson also alleges that the Attorney General's Office should represent him in his civil rights suits against the defendant-employees and officials of the Department.
Respondents initially challenge the method by which Bronson served his petition for review upon them. It is undisputed that the petition was served upon respondents by first class mail. Respondents contend that service by first class mail is ineffective to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court and obtain personal jurisdiction over them. We agree.
Service of process under this Court's original jurisdiction is governed by the Rules of Appellate Procedure. Philadelphia County Intermediate Unit No. 26 v. Department of Education, 60 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 546, 432 A.2d 1121 (1981). The requirements for service of process are found in Pa. R.A.P. 1514(c), which requires service upon each individual respondent either in person or by certified mail. In Feigley v. Jeffes, 97 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 583, 510 A.2d 385 (1986), we specifically held that service of a petition for review invoking this Court's original jurisdiction by first class
[ 107 Pa. Commw. Page 593]
mail is not authorized by Pa. R.A.P. 1514(c) and is insufficient to vest this Court with jurisdiction over the named respondents. Id. at 587, 510 A.2d at 386. See also 1 R. Darlington, K. McKeon, D. Schuckers & K. Brown, Pa. Appellate Practice §§ 1514:6 and 1514:7 (1986). Bronson's service of his ...