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CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND COUNSELING CENTER v. ROBERT E. MORAN (11/16/87)

filed: November 16, 1987.

CROZER-CHESTER MEDICAL CENTER AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND COUNSELING CENTER
v.
ROBERT E. MORAN, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Civil Division, No. 86-8147.

COUNSEL

Eugene Hamill, Glenolden, for appellant.

Donald T. Petrosa, Media, for Crozer-Chester, appellee.

Donald A. Browns, Media, for Reproductive Health, appellee.

Cirillo, President Judge, and Tamilia and Cercone, JJ. Cirillo, President Judge, dissents.

Author: Tamilia

[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 244]

This appeal is from an Order requiring appellant, Robert Moran, to pay a fine for contempt of court or in the alternative to be committed to a specific jail term. The sole issue before us is whether the Order in question should be interpreted as imposing penalties for civil or criminal contempt.

[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 245]

We conclude the penalties imposed were in the nature of civil, not criminal, contempt.

To reach the conclusion that the contempt Order in question is civil rather than criminal, the June 26, 1986 Order of the lower court, requiring appellant to either make immediate payment of a $1,500 fine or face forty-five days incarceration, cannot be read in isolation from the prior and ongoing proceedings in this action. Had this been an initial hearing, and Order standing alone, the provision of the Order providing for either a fine or jail would sound in criminal contempt. We must look, however, to the February 6, 1986 Order of the lower court wherein appellant was found to be in violation of the original injunction and was adjudicated to be in civil contempt. That adjudication is as follows.

ADJUDICATION OF CIVIL CONTEMPT

And now, this 6 day of February, 1986, after Defendant, Robert E. Moran, knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily, waived his right to an evidentiary hearing upon the Attachment and Citation of Contempt entered by this Court against Robert E. Moran, it is hereby:

ADJUDGED and DECREED that the Defendant, Robert E. Moran, is in civil contempt of this Court by reason of his going onto the property of Plaintiffs and otherwise acting in a manner violative of the Court's Decree nisi entered February 10, 1984, and final Decree entered November 9, 1984; the conduct of the Defendant, Robert E. Moran, has willfully violated the terms and conditions of the decrees of this Court on December 7, 1985, and it is therefore hereby:

Ordered:

[ 368 Pa. Super. Page 246]

1. That an [sic] conditional fine of $1500.00 be imposed upon the Defendant, Robert E. Moran; however, the Defendant may purge himself of the contempt and avoid the necessity of paying the fine by staying off the private property of Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Page 246} Reproductive Health and Counseling Center in accordance with the Court's decrees referred to above, so long as the decrees remain in effect;

2. Should sufficient evidence be brought before the Court that the Defendant, Robert E. Moran, has entered onto the private property of the Plaintiffs subsequent to the date of this Order, in violation of this Court's decrees, the Court will order immediate payment of the above fine and in default thereof, the Defendant, Robert E. Moran, will be sentenced to 45 days in the Delaware County Prison;

3. Said future violation, or any other future violation may also be the basis for a new Petition for Contempt;

4. The Court hereby finds, based upon the Stipulation of the Defendant, Robert E. Moran, that the said Defendant has the financial ability to pay the fine hereby imposed by this Order;

5. This Order shall remain in effect until further Order of this Court. (Emphasis added.)

A review of the Order shows a conditional fine of $1,500 was imposed, and in default thereof, incarceration for forty-five (45) days. Additionally, the Order contained a purging condition whereby appellant could avoid ...


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