Rule 141. Appeals from Contempt Adjudications by Magisterial District Judges and Pittsburgh Magistrates Court Judges.
(A) An appeal authorized by 42 Pa.C.S. § § 4137(d) and 4138(d) of the action of an issuing authority in a contempt proceeding shall be perfected by filing a notice of appeal within 30 days after the action of the issuing authority with the clerk of courts and by appearing in the court of common pleas for the de novo hearing.
(B) In all cases, the punishment imposed for contempt shall be stayed for 30 days from the imposition of the punishment. If an appeal is filed within the 30-day period, the stay shall remain in effect pending disposition of the appeal.
(C) The notice of appeal shall contain the following information:
(1) the name and address of the appellant;
(2) the name and address of the issuing authority who heard the case;
(3) the magisterial district number where the case was heard;
(4) the date of the imposition of punishment;
(5) the punishment imposed;
(6) the type or amount of bail furnished to the issuing authority, if any; and
(7) the name and address of the attorney, if any, filing the notice of appeal.
(D) Within 5 days after the filing of the notice of appeal, the clerk of courts shall serve a copy either personally or by mail upon the issuing authority.
(E) The issuing authority shall, within 20 days after receipt of the notice of appeal, file with the clerk of courts:
(1) the transcript of the proceedings;
(2) either the notice of the hearing or a copy of the attachment;
(3) the contempt order; and
(4) any bench warrant.
(F) Upon the filing of the transcript and other papers by the issuing authority, the case shall be heard de novo by the appropriate division of the court of common pleas as the president judge shall direct.
(1) If the judge assigned to hear the matter finds contempt and imposes punishment, the case shall remain in the court of common pleas for execution of any punishment, including the collection of any fines or costs.
(2) If the appellant fails to appear for the de novo hearing, the judge may dismiss the appeal and enter judgment in the court of common pleas on the judgment of the issuing authority.
(3) If the appellant withdraws the appeal, the judge may dismiss the appeal and enter judgment in the court of common pleas on the judgment of the issuing authority.
This rule provides the procedures for taking an appeal from a finding of contempt by a magisterial district judge or a Pittsburgh Magistrates Court judge.
As used in this rule, issuing authority refers only to magisterial district judges and Pittsburgh Magistrates Court judges when acting within the scope of their contempt powers. See 42 Pa.C.S. § § 4137 and 4138.
By Orders dated November 29, 2004, 34 Pa.B. 6507 (December 11, 2004) and February 25, 2005, 35 Pa.B. 1662 (March 12, 2005), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court created an administrative judicial unit referred to as the Pittsburgh Municipal Court and assigned all matters within the jurisdiction of the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court to the Pittsburgh Municipal Court. As a result of these orders, the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court is no longer staffed while the Pittsburgh Municipal Court is staffed by Allegheny County magisterial district judges assigned on a rotating basis. The terminology is retained in these rules because the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court, which is created by statute, has not been disestablished by the statute.
This rule was amended in 2018 to remove references to Philadelphia Traffic Court judges after that Court was abolished by an amendment to Article 5, Section 6, of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated in Commonwealth v. McMullen, 961 A.2d 842 (Pa. 2008), legislative limitations on a courts power to sentence for contempt are unconstitutional.
Pursuant to paragraph (B), any punishment imposed for contempt will be automatically stayed for 30 days from the date of the imposition of the punishment, during which time a notice of appeal may be filed with the clerk of courts. To the extent that 42 Pa.C.S. § § 4137(d) and 4138(d) are inconsistent with this rule, they are suspended by Rule 1101 (Suspension of Acts of Assembly).
If no notice of appeal is filed within the 30-day period following imposition of the punishment, Rule 140 requires the issuing authority to direct the contemnor on a date certain to pay any fine imposed or to appear for execution of any punishment of imprisonment.
See 42 Pa.C.S. § 4137(e) concerning the imposition of bail as a condition of release by a magisterial district judge.
The procedures set forth in Rule 462 (Trial De Novo) for a trial de novo on a summary case should be followed when a contempt adjudication is appealed to the common pleas court.
No defendant may be sentenced to imprisonment if the right to counsel was not afforded at the de novo contempt hearing See Alabama v. Shelton, 535 U. S. 654 (2002), Scott v. Illinois, 440 U. S. 367 (1979), and Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U. S. 25 (1972).
Paragraph (F) makes it clear that the judge assigned to conduct the de novo hearing may dismiss an appeal of the action of an issuing authority in a contempt proceeding when the judge determines that the appellant is absent without cause from the de novo hearing. If the appeal is dismissed, the judge should enter judgment and order execution of any punishment imposed by the issuing authority.
Once punishment for a contempt adjudication is imposed, paragraph (F)(1) makes it clear that the case is to remain in the court of common pleas for execution of the sentence and collection of any fine and costs, and the case may not be returned to the issuing authority.
Rule 31 adopted October 1, 1997, effective October 1, 1998; renumbered Rule 141 and Comment revised March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; amended February 28, 2003, effective July 1, 2003; Comment revised March 26, 2004, effective July 1, 2004; amended March 1, 2012, effective July 1, 2012; Comment revised May 7, 2014, effective immediately; amended January 2, 2018, effective April 1, 2018.
Committee Explanatory Reports:
Final Report explaining the provisions of new Rule 31 published with the Courts Order at 27 Pa.B. 5405 (October 18, 1997).
Final Report explaining the March 1, 2000 reorganization and renumbering of the rules published with the Courts Order at 30 Pa.B. 1478 (March 18, 2000).
Final Report explaining the February 28, 2003 amendments concerning contempt appeals published with the Courts Order at 33 Pa.B. 1326 (March 15, 2003).
Final Report explaining the March 26, 2004 Comment revision concerning right to counsel published with the Courts Order at 34 Pa.B. 1931 (April 10, 2004).
Final Report explaining the March 1, 2012 amendments regarding limitations on punishment for contempt published with the Courts Order at 42 Pa.B. 1367 (March 17, 2012).
Final Report explaining the May 7, 2014 Comment revision concerning the transfer of the Philadelphia Traffic Court functions to the Philadelphia Municipal Court published with the Courts Order at 44 Pa.B. 3065 (May 24, 2014).
Final Report explaining the January 2, 2018 amendment concerning the abolition of the Philadelphia Traffic Court published with the Courts Order at 48 Pa.B. 495 (January 20, 2018).
The provisions of this Rule 141 amended February 28, 2003, effective July 1, 2003, 33 Pa.B. 1324; amended March 26, 2004, effective July 1, 2004, 34 Pa.B. 1929; amended March 1, 2012, effective July 1, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 1364; amended May 7, 2014, effective immediately, 44 Pa.B. 3056; amended January 2, 2018, effective April 1, 2018, 48 Pa.B. 490. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (372110) to (372112).
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