Com. ex rel. Carroll v. Tate

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtAuthor: Bell
Citation442 Pa. 45,274 A.2d 193
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania ex rel. Honorable Vincent A. CARROLL, Individually and on behalf of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. v. James H. J. TATE, Mayor of Philadelphia, et al., Appellants.
Decision Date16 February 1971

274 A.2d 193

442 Pa. 45

COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania ex rel. Honorable Vincent A. CARROLL, Individually and on behalf of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.
James H. J. TATE, Mayor of Philadelphia, et al., Appellants.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

February 16, 1971.

Rehearing Denied March 19, 1971. [274 A.2d 194]

[442 Pa. 46] Henry T. Reath, Duane, Morris & Heckscher, Philadelphia, for petitioner.

Levy Anderson, City Sol., Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., First Deputy City Sol., Philadelphia, for respondents.

Andrew Hourigan, Jr., Richard M. Goldberg, Hourigan, Kluger & Spohrer, Wilkes-Barre, for amicus curiae, Pa. Bar Assn.

Thomas N. O'Neill, Jr., Philadelphia, for amicus curiae Bd. of Governors of Philadelphia Bar assn.



BELL, Chief Justice.

On June 16, 1970, President Judge Vincent A. Carroll, individually and on behalf of all of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, instituted this suit by a Complaint in Mandamus to compel the Mayor and City Council of Philadelphia to appropriate the additional funds requested by them for the important and necessary administration of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1970 and ending July 1, 1971. [1]

We shall hereinafter set forth the intricate facts involved in this suit, but, initially, we deem it important to focus on the fundamental questions involved: (1) whether the Judicial Branch of our Government has the inherent power to Determine what funds are Reasonably necessary for its efficient and effective operation; and (2) if the Judiciary has the power to determine what funds are reasonably necessary, does it then have the power to Compel the Executive the Legislative Branches to provide such funds after the requested amount has been reduced in, or wholly or partially eliminated from, the budget proposed by the Executive Branch and approved by the Legislative Branch.

The Court of Common Pleas, pursuant to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter of April 17, 1951, Section 8--103, on December 3, 1969, submitted to the City's Finance Director (on the necessary forms) its operating budget estimates of the financial needs of the Court of Common Pleas and the Municipal Court. [2] The total [442 Pa. 48] amount of [274 A.2d 195] requests submitted was $19,706,278. After several meetings between the Finance Director and representatives of the said Court, the sum was reduced to $16,488,263, and, on April 1, 1970, this amount was finally sent to City Council by the Mayor in his proposed annual operating budget message. On May 4, 1970, President Judge Carroll, Judge D. Donald Jamieson (now President Judge), and Administrative Judge Frank J. Montemuro, together with several members of their administrative staffs, gave extensive testimony before City Council, seeking to document their requests. The Court at this time also requested an increase of $5,230,817 over the amount proposed in the Mayor's aforesaid budget of April 1st. Of this sum of $5,230,817, $2,012,801 had not previously been requested of either the Finance Director or the Mayor prior to the time the Mayor submitted his budget. City Council denied this additional request and approved by ordinance, on May 28, 1970, the amount recommended by the Mayor, i.e., $16,488,263. This total was divided and allocated as follows:

Municipal Court Judicial Staff $ 451,532
                Common Pleas Court Judicial Staff 2,126,839
                Common Pleas Court Administration 13,909,892
                 Total $16,488,263

This present mandamus action was instituted on June 16, 1970 to compel the appropriation and payment of the Court's additional request of $5,230,817.

[442 Pa. 49] Proceedings Before Judge Montgomery

On June 23, 1970, Judge Harry M. Montgomery, of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, was specially designated by this Court to hear and decide this case. Judge Montgomery promptly held a pre-trial conference, at which time the legal issues were delineated and an agreement was worked out by the parties that defendants would hold and keep available sufficient funds to pay any sums ultimately awarded to the Court. On July 27, 1970, Judge Montgomery issued a Pre-Trial Order, ordering the parties to argue and brief certain issues and temporarily enjoining the defendants from enforcing a 'job freeze' ordered by the Mayor against the Court, and also from reducing the Court's budget. Oral argument was held on August 4, 1970, and Judge Montgomery filed a 'Supplemental Pre-Trial Order' on August 12, 1970. In this Order, Judge Montgomery ruled, inter alia: (1) the Court had the burden of proof to establish the reasonable necessity of its financial requests and none of the parties could take advantage of the usual presumption of reasonableness by virtue of their public office; (2) defendants, as a defense to plaintiff's demand for additional funds in this action of mandamus, could not 'reopen' the earlier budget figures, which had been approved by the Mayor and for which appropriations had been made by the City Council, in order to prove that the present appropriation was being used inefficiently or that a more efficient use of present appropriations would cover some or all of the additional requested items; and (3) defendants had a right to a jury trial. [3] The record was closed on August 21, 1970, after extensive testimony had been taken and exhibits produced. At this time, the Court [442 Pa. 50] amended its request for funds by reducing the sum of $5,230,817 at had requested in the complaint to $3,962,532, mainly because of the delay [274 A.2d 196] in time from the start of the fiscal year (July 1, 1970).

On September 30, 1970, Judge Montgomery issued a mandamus Order against defendants to appropriate and pay the amount of $2,458,000, and made final his injunctive Order of July 27, 1970. A complete tabulation of the original request in the complaint, the amended request, and the final award of September 30, 1970 is as follows:

 Original Amended Court Order
                 Request Request 9/30/70
                 ---------- ---------- -----------
                 Adult Probation $1,782,216 $1,071,937 $ 800,000
                 Juvenile Probation 539,922 345,032 250,000
                 Data Processing 453,934 434,175 250,000
                 Apprehension of Fugitives 335,910 284,322 285,000
                 Courtroom Personnel 224,452 152,420 100,000
                 Attorney Fees 300,000 300,000 300,000
                 Arbitration Fees 390,000 390,000 200,000
                 Writ Service 100,000 100,000 75,000
                 Gibson Building Personnel 227,036 113,518 Disallowed
                 Probation Relocation 24,500 24,500 Disallowed
                 Repairs--1801 Vine Street 40,000 40,000 Disallowed
                 Janitorial Staff 56,940 47,431 Disallowed
                 Microfilm 96,822 88,335 Disallowed
                 Bail Project 172,857 145,881 Disallowed
                 Dental Equipment 10,413 10,413 Disallowed
                 Domestic Relations 61,912 51,593 Disallowed
                 Total Copy System 23,000 23,000 23,000
                 Building Services 145,377 129,449 Disallowed
                 Law Clerks 133,206 133,206 100,000
                 Station Wagon 2,320 2,320 Disallowed
                 Prothonotary Relocation 35,000 Withdrawn ----
                 Crime Commission Grant 75,000 75,000 75,000
                 ---------- ---------- -----------
                 Totals $5,230,817 $3,962,532 $2,458,000

Both parties filed exceptions to the Order of September 30, 1970, and also to the Supplemental Pre- [442 Pa. 51] Trial Order of August 12, 1970, and these exceptions were then argued before Judge Montgomery. [4] The exceptions were dismissed by Judge Montgomery on November 2, 1970, and final judgment was entered in the amount awarded by his Order of September 30, 1970. Both parties appealed to the Commonwealth Court, and thereafter, on November 12, 1970, a petition for plenary jurisdiction under Section 205 of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970 was granted by this Court.

Court's Inherent Power

It is a basic precept of our Constitutional form of Republican Government that the Judiciary is an independent and co-equal Branch of Government, along with the Executive and Legislative Branches. Stander v. Kelley, 433 Pa. 406, 421--424, 250 A.2d 474; Leahey v. Farrell, 362 Pa. 52, 66 A.2d 577; Wilson v. Phila. School Dist., [274 A.2d 197] 328 Pa. 225, 228, 195 A. 90; Commonwealth v. Mathues, 210 Pa. 372, 423--425, 59 A. 961; De Chastellux v. Fairchild, 15 Pa. 18, 20; Commonwealth ex rel. Hepburn v. Mann, 5 Watts & S. 403, 406, 408, 410, 420--421; In re Surcharge of County Commissioners, 12 Pa. Dist. & Co.R. 471. The line of separation or demarcation between the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial, and their respective jurisdiction and powers, has never been definitely and specifically defined, and perhaps no clear line of distinction can ever be drawn. However, we must, of necessity, from time to time examine and define some of the respective powers within these undefined boundaries.

[442 Pa. 52] Because of the basic functions and inherent powers of the three co-equal Branches of Government, the co-equal independent Judiciary must possess rights and powers co-equal with its functions and duties, including the right and power to protect itself against any impairment thereof. See Commonwealth ex rel. Hepburn v. Mann, 5 Watts & S. 403, supra; Leahey v. Farrell, 362 Pa. 52, 66 A.2d 577, supra; Wilson v. Phila, School Dist., 328 Pa. 225, supra. [5]

Expressed in other words, the Judiciary Must possess the inherent power to determine and compel payment of those sums of money which are reasonable and necessary to carry out its mandated responsibilities, and its powers and duties to administer Justice, if it is to be in reality a co-equal, independent Branch of our Government. This principle has long been recognized, not only in this Commonwealth but also throughout our Nation. See, e.g., Leahey v. Farrell, 362 Pa. 52, 66 A.2d 577 supra; Commonwealth ex rel. Hepburn v. Mann, 5 Watts & S. 403, supra; Commissioners v. Hall, 7 Watts 290; Commonwealth v. Brownmiller, ...

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