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Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners v. Commonwealth

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

October 18, 2013

PENNSYLVANIA STATE ASSOCIATION OF JURY COMMISSIONERS, LARRY A. THOMPSON, PRESIDENT PENNSYLVANIA STATE ASSOCIATION OF JURY COMMISSIONERS, MARTHA S. SMITH, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF CHESTER COUNTY, MARY JANE DELLAFIORA, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF INDIANA COUNTY, GEORGE RICHARD ZIMMERMAN, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, PAMELA L. BISBING, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF MONROE COUNTY, CLINTON A. BONETTI, FIRST VICE PRESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA STATE ASSOCIATION OF JURY COMMISSIONERS AND DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF BUTLER COUNTY, RICHARD L. WARD, JR., DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF COLUMBIA COUNTY, KRISTEN GENSEL, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF COLUMBIA COUNTY, JOANNE CISCO OLSZEWSKI, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY, DONALD LEE DISSINGER, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF PERRY COUNTY, JUDITH L. FISHER, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, SANDRA ODEN KELLNER, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF VENANGO COUNTY, DORETTA K. MELLOTT, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF FULTON COUNTY, GLENN E. FORD, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF FULTON COUNTY, MARJORIE A. WASSMER, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF PIKE COUNTY, GERTRUDE SMITH, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF PIKE COUNTY, JERRY OLSON, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF ELK COUNTY, SHELLEY L. BLYTHE, DULY ELECTED JURY COMMISSIONER OF BEAVER COUNTY, Appellants
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA C/O ATTORNEY GENERAL OF PENNSYLVANIA, HONORABLE THOMAS CORBETT, GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA, HONORABLE CAROL AICHELE, SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, HONORABLE KATHLEEN KANE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF PENNSYLVANIA, HONORABLE JOSEPH B. SCARNATI, III, ELECTED PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, HONORABLE SAMUEL H. SMITH, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellees, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ASSOCIATION OF PENNSYLVANIA, Intervenors

Argued September 11, 2013

Page 1021

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1022

Appeal from the order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 247 MD 2013 dated July 31, 2013. Other Court Judge: Bernard L. McGinley, Anne E. Covey, Kevin P. Brobson, JJ.

For County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, INTERVENOR, Adam Gordon Klein, Esq. Smigel, Anderson & Sacks, L.L.P., Robert L. Knupp, Esq. Smigel, Anderson & Sacks, L.L.P., Anthony T. McBeth, Esq.

For Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners, et al, APPELLANT, David C. Cleaver, Esq. Keller, Keller and Beck, L.L.C., Samuel C. Stretton, Esq. Law Office of Samuel C. Stretton,

For Hon. J.B. Scarnati, III, Pres Pro Temp, Senate of PA & Hon. S.H. Smith, Speaker, House of Reps of PA, APPELLEE, Jonathan F. Bloom, Esq. Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, LLP, Ian Michael Long, Esq. Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, L.L.P., Karl Stewart Myers, Esq. Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, L.L.P.

For Hon. T. Corbett, Gov. of PA, Hon. C. Aichele, Sec. of Comm. of PA & Hon. K. Kane, PA Ally. General, APPELLEE, John Bartley Delone, Esq., Kathleen Granahan Kane, Esq. PA Office of Attorney General, John G. Knorr III, Esq. PA Office of Attorney General.

BEFORE: CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, STEVENS, JJ. MR. JUSTICE STEVENS. Mr. Chief Justice Castille and Messrs. Justice Saylor, Eakin, Baer and McCaffery join the opinion. Madame Justice Todd files a Dissenting Opinion.

OPINION

Page 1023

[621 Pa. 365] MR. STEVENS, JUSTICE

This direct appeal from an order denying injunctive and declaratory relief by a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court concerns various constitutional challenges to a law recently enacted by the General Assembly known as Act 4 of 2013.[1] Specifically, it is alleged that Act 4 of 2013 constitutes [621 Pa. 366] (1) a violation of the separation of powers doctrine as embodied within Article V, Sections 1 and 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution establishing a unified judicial system supervised by this Court; [2] (2) an improper delegation of legislative authority to the executive branch in violation of Article II, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution; [3] and (3) a violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[4] The Commonwealth Court,

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in a unanimous decision, rejected the constitutional challenges, and dismissed the action. After initial review, this Court ordered the parties to present oral argument on the first two issues. Following oral argument, on September 17, 2013, this Court entered judgment [621 Pa. 367] and filed a per curiam order affirming the Commonwealth Court's order, indicating " Opinions to follow." [5] This Opinion is written in accordance with our per curiam order and fully explains our holding that Act 4 of 2013 is constitutional.

I. Background

By way of background, on December 15, 2011, the Governor signed into effect House Bill 1644, and it became Act 108 of 2011.[6] Act 108 of 2011 sought to revise Section 1805 of The County Code, as codified 16 P.S. § 1805, by revising subsection (b) relating to surplus farm equipment, and adding a subsection (c) to provide procedures for the commissioners of counties of the third through eighth class to hold auction sales of personal property via online and electronic forums. Additionally, Act 108 of 2011 sought to add subsection (f) to Article IV, Section 401 of The County Code, as codified 16 P.S. § 401, and amend Chapter I, Section 102(a) of The County Code, as codified 16 P.S. § 102(a), to authorize the governing bodies of second class A and third through eighth class counties to adopt a resolution abolishing the office of jury commissioner.

Upon the enactment of Act 108 of 2011, the Pennsylvania State Association of Jury Commissioners (the Jury Commissioners Association) and duly elected jury commissioners from Butler, Chester, Indiana, and Washington Counties filed, in the Commonwealth Court's original jurisdiction, an action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Commonwealth, Governor, and Attorney General, contending that Act 108 of 2011 was unconstitutional as violative of the " single subject rule" of Article III, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution,[7] the separation of powers doctrine as embodied within Article V, Sections 1 and 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution [621 Pa. 368] establishing a unified judicial system supervised by this Court, and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution under the void for vagueness doctrine.[8] The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (the County Commissioners Association) sought and was granted intervenor status with regard to the original action, and the Governor and Attorney General were then dismissed upon consent of all parties.

After the pleadings in the matter were closed, the Jury Commissioners Association, along with the various duly elected jury commissioners, and the County Commissioners Association filed cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. The Commonwealth Court, sitting en banc, in a 4-3 decision, rejected the constitutional challenges, thus finding in favor of the County Commissioners Association and dismissing the action. Pa. State Ass'n of Jury Comm'rs v. Commonwealth, 53 A.3d 109 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012) (en banc), reversed, Pa. State Ass'n of Jury Comm'rs v. Commonwealth, 619 Pa. 369, 64 A.3d 611 (2013).

The Jury Commissioners Association and the various duly elected jury commissioners filed a direct appeal to this Court, and upon review, we found that Act 108 of 2011 clearly, palpably, and plainly violated the " single subject rule" of Article III, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Accordingly, we reversed the order of the Commonwealth Court on this sole basis.[9] Pa. State Ass'n of Jury Comm'rs v. Commonwealth, 619 Pa. 369, 64 A.3d 611 (2013).

Page 1025

Following our decision, the matter of abolishing the office of jury commissioner was revisited by the General Assembly. Specifically, on April 16, 2013, House Bill 808, Printer's Number 837, passed the state Senate by a vote of 38-12, and on April 24, 2013, it passed the state House of Representatives by a vote of 156-39. On May 6, 2013, the Governor signed the [621 Pa. 369] bill into effect, and it became Act 4 of 2013, authorizing the governing bodies of second class A and third through eighth class counties to adopt a resolution abolishing the office of jury commissioner. Act 4 of 2013, indicating it shall take effect immediately, amended Section 401 of The County Code, by addressing subsection (f), which provides the following:

Section 401. Enumeration of Elected Officers.-
***
( f) After review of the procedures in effect within the county to ensure that lists of potential jurors are a representative cross section of the community, the governing body of a county of the second class A or third through eighth class may adopt, by a majority vote, a resolution abolishing the office of jury commissioner. Upon approval of the resolution, the office of jury commissioner shall expire at the completion of the current jury commissioners' terms of office.

16 P.S. § 401(f).

Upon the enactment of Act 4 of 2013, the Jury Commissioners Association and duly elected jury commissioners from various counties[10] (collectively, Appellants) filed, in the Commonwealth Court's original jurisdiction, an action for declaratory and injunctive relief naming as respondents the Commonwealth, the Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate, and the Pennsylvania Speaker of the House of Representatives, contending that Act 4 of 2013 was unconstitutional in accord with the three rationales set forth supra, pp. 3-4. In due course, the County Commissioners Association sought and was granted intervenor status to oppose Appellants' constitutional challenges to Act 4 of 2013.

To expedite the consideration of the matter, the Commonwealth Court directed all parties to file dispositive motions for summary relief pursuant to Rule 1532(b) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure.[11] [621 Pa. 370] Sitting in a three-judge panel, the Commonwealth Court unanimously ...


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