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PAUL C. PFINGSTL v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/29/87)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: September 29, 1987.

PAUL C. PFINGSTL, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION, RESPONDENT

Appeal from the Order of the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, in case of In Re: Petition of Paul C. Pfingstl, Hunting License Revocation, Docket No. R.R.-86-452.

COUNSEL

John F. Goryl, for petitioner.

Stuart M. Bliwas, Chief Counsel, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish.

Author: Kalish

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 578]

Petitioner, Paul C. Pfingstl, petitions for review of an order of the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission upholding the Game Commission's (Commission) one-year revocation of his hunting license. We vacate the order of the Executive Director of the Game Commission, and reinstate the decision of the Commission.

On December 9, 1985, petitioner was cited and charged with possession of an antlerless deer taken in antlered deer season in violation of section 701 of the Game Law, Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1225, as amended, 34 P.S. § 1311.701. Petitioner paid a fine of $200.00 and $25.00 costs to a District Justice. Subsequently, the Commission revoked petitioner's hunting license for a period of one year. Following an administrative hearing, the Executive Director of the Commission adopted the recommendation of the hearing officer and ordered that the revocation should stand as originally ordered.

Our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or whether necessary findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 704;

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 579]

Section 315(1) of the Game Law states:

The commission may revoke any license issued under this act and deny any person the right to secure a license or to hunt or trap anywhere in this Commonwealth with or without a license, if said licensee or person has either been convicted or signed an acknowledgment of violating any provision of this act, or if such person has been adjudged guilty, in the manner hereinafter provided, of any of the acts enumerated below, for such periods as hereinafter specified.

58 Pa. Code § 145.7(a), titled Decision of the Director or Commission, provides:

Matters not previously acted upon by the Commission will be decided by the Director or, at the discretion of the Director, by the Commission. If a matter is decided by the Commission, action on such matter will be taken at a regular meeting or a special meeting of the Commission. The recommendation of the hearing officer on matters previously acted upon by the Commission will be reviewed by the Director or a designee.

Pursuant to section 315(1) of the Game Law, the Game Commission has final authority to revoke a hunting license. The Executive Director of the Game Commission is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Commission. Section 205 of the Game Law, 34 P.S. § 1311.205. The Game Law contains no provision authorizing the Executive Director to review a Commission decision. Moreover, the final sentence of 58 Pa. Code § 145.7(a) merely empowers the Executive Director to review the hearing officer's recommendation on matters previously acted on by the Commission. The authority to review a hearing officer's recommendation cannot be construed to authorize the Executive Director

[ 109 Pa. Commw. Page 581]

    to affirm or reverse a Commission decision to revoke a hunting license. Thus, we conclude that the Game Commission's procedure whereby the Executive Director issues a final order is unauthorized by statute or regulation.

Accordingly, we must vacate the order of the Executive Director of the Game Commission, and reinstate the decision of the Commission.

Order

Now, September 29, 1987, the order of the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, dated April 28, 1986, is vacated, and the decision of the Pennsylvania Game Commission is reinstated.

Disposition

Order of Executive Director vacated. Order of Commission reinstated.

19870929

© 1998 VersusLaw Inc.



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