Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clarion County, in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Arthur William Frampton, No. 779 C.D. 1982.
Melissa K. Dively, Assistant Counsel, with her, Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Chief Counsel and John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellant.
William R. Strong, for appellee.
Judges Craig and McGinley, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 390]
The Department of Transportation, Bureau of Traffic Safety (DOT) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clarion County that sustained the appeal of Arthur Frampton from a fifteen-day suspension of his operating privilege. We vacate and remand for a hearing on the merits raised in Mr. Frampton's petition for appeal.
On August 3, 1982, DOT notified Mr. Frampton that his driver's license would be suspended for fifteen days pursuant to section 1538 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S. § 1538. He appealed to the common pleas court, and by an order dated August 24, 1982, the trial court granted a hearing de novo, "to be held at a date fixed by the court".
The hearing finally occurred six years later, on February 10, 1988. In the hearing before the trial judge, Mr. Frampton argued that for many years the Clarion
[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 391]
County Court of Common Pleas has employed a "practice" that relied upon DOT to schedule the hearings for the license suspension appeals. In support of this contention, Mr. Frampton presented the testimony of Emma Lou Carrier, court administrator and secretary for the Clarion County judges.
On direct examination, Ms. Carrier testified:
Q. The past practice of this Court was that the Commonwealth, through a representative of the Attorney General's ...