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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES FEE (05/13/88)

decided: May 13, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND THE TOWNSHIP OF UNION, PETITIONERS
v.
JAMES FEE, RESPONDENT



Original Jurisdiction, Appeal in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and The Township of Union v. James Fee.

COUNSEL

Jerome T. Foerster, Deputy Attorney General, with him, John G. Knorr, III, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for petitioners.

Charles M. Means, Markel, Schafer & Means, P.C., for respondent.

Judges Craig and Smith, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick.

Author: Narick

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 184]

The matter before us involves an application filed by James Fee (Respondent) to open or vacate judgment. For the reasons set forth herein, Respondent's application is denied.*fn1

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 185]

Respondent was an elected supervisor of Union Township (Township), a second class township located in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. On November 19, 1986, the State Ethics Commission (Commission) issued a letter entitled "Order No. 476-R" which indicated that in light of Respondent's request for reconsideration it was the Commission's conclusion that Respondent had received certain hospital insurance coverage during the years 1982 through 1984 in violation of Section 3(a) of the State Ethics Act (Act), Act of October 4, 1978, P.L. 883, as amended, 65 P.S. ยง 403(a). The order directed Respondent to remit to the Township $3,156.34 which was the total amount of monies expended by the Township for Respondent's insurance coverage. The order further stated that "This Order is final and will be made available as a public document 15 days after service (defined as mailing) unless you file documentation with the Commission which justifies reconsideration and/or challenges pertinent factual findings . . .". Respondent did not appeal this order.

On August 17, 1987 the Attorney General filed on behalf of the Commonwealth and the Township (Petitioners) (1) a petition for review seeking enforcement of the Commission's November 19, 1986 order and entry of a money judgment in favor of Petitioners and against Respondent and (2) a petition for special and summary relief (in the nature of peremptory judgment). Count I of the petition for review was addressed to this Court's appellate jurisdiction and sought relief in the nature of a judgment in the amount of $3,156.34 against Respondent and also requested that statutory interest and penalties be assessed against Respondent which would require Respondent to pay a total sum of $9,469.02 to the Township. Count II of the petition for review was addressed

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 186]

    to this Court's original jurisdiction and also sought relief in the nature of a judgment against Respondent in the amount of $3,156.34 or $9,469.02. Petitioners' application for special and summary relief asserted that because there are no material issues of fact, Petitioners' right to relief is clear; and therefore, judgment should be entered against Respondent.

On September 29, 1987 the parties met before Senior Judge Wilson Bucher of this Court to present their positions. At this time, Judge Bucher granted to Respondent, who was unrepresented by counsel, an extension of time in order to file appropriate responses to Petitioners' requests for relief. On November 13, 1987, Respondent filed a motion to quash Count I of the petition for review, an answer and new matter to the petition for review, and a motion to remove the Township as a party plaintiff. On December 1, 1987, Judge Bucher issued a memorandum opinion and order which (1) dismissed Petitioners' application for summary relief; (2) granted Respondent's motion to quash Count I of the petition for review addressed to this Court's appellate jurisdiction;*fn2 (3) denied Respondent's motion to remove the Township as a party plaintiff; and (4) entered judgment in favor of the Commonwealth ...


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