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DANIEL T. DUNN v. JOHN RULLI (09/16/87)

decided: September 16, 1987.

DANIEL T. DUNN, WARREN L. SHAFFER AND PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, APPELLANTS
v.
JOHN RULLI, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of John Rulli v. Daniel T. Dunn, Warren L. Shaffer and Pennsylvania State Police, No. 130 September 1961; No. 248 January 1961; No. 86 March 1964.

COUNSEL

Kenneth J. Benson, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Gregory R. Neuhauser, Senior Deputy Attorney General, Andrew S. Gordon, Chief Deputy Attorney General, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellants.

Louis P. Vitti, Markovitz and Vitti, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Colins concurs in the result only.

Author: Crumlish

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 357]

Daniel Dunn, Warren Shaffer and the Pennsylvania State Police (State Police)*fn1 appeal an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order determining them to be in contempt of its previous order directing expungement of John G. Rulli's criminal records. We reverse.

Rulli was convicted of various crimes between 1961 and 1964. In 1975, he applied for and received a full gubernatorial pardon. Having relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, and in order to preserve his employment at a casino there, he petitioned the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court for expungement of his criminal records. That court granted his petition in 1979. After being unexpectedly discharged by his employer, he discovered that information concerning his criminal records was made available to his employer by the State Police, against whom Rulli then sought relief.*fn2 The common pleas court cited Dunn, Shaffer and the State Police for contempt of its expungement order.*fn3

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 358]

The State Police appealed this contempt order to Superior Court, which quashed its appeal upon concluding that, because no sanctions had been imposed, the order was interlocutory. Rulli v. Dunn, 337 Pa. Superior Ct. 613, 487 A.2d 430 (1985). Having perceived controlling questions of law, the disposition of which would advance the appeal, the common pleas court thereafter certified its order, 42 Pa. C.S. ยง 702, and permission to appeal was granted. Superior Court transferred this matter to this Court.*fn4

The State Police maintain that, since it was never named in the common pleas court order directing expungement, it cannot be held in contempt of that order. We agree.

The contempt power is an inherent judicial power, Woodruff v. Township of Lower Southampton, 68 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 171, 448 A.2d 692 (1982), and where a contempt citation is intended to enforce compliance with an order of the court and can be purged by complying with that directive, it will be recognized as civil, rather than criminal, in nature. Commonwealth v. Marcone, 487 Pa. 572, 410 A.2d 759 (1980).

Before a person may be cited for contempt, however, it must be shown that he had actual knowledge of the order. East Caln Township v. Carter, 440 Pa. 607, 269 A.2d 703 (1970). In In Re Rubin, 378 F.2d 104 (3d Cir. 1967), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said that two requirements, each a corollary of the other, must be established. The first of these is the contemnor's knowledge; the corollary of this requirement is that the order must be ...


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