Rule 142. Procedures Governing Defaults in Payment of Fine Imposed as Punishment for Contempt.

 (A)  If a contemnor defaults on the payment of a fine imposed as punishment for contempt pursuant to Rule 140(A)(1) and (B)(3), the issuing authority shall notify the contemnor in person or by first class mail that within 10 days of the date on the default notice the contemnor must either:

   (1)  pay the amount due as ordered, or

   (2)  appear before the issuing authority to explain why the contemnor should not be imprisoned for nonpayment as provided by law, or a bench warrant for the contemnor’s arrest shall be issued.

 (B)  When the contemnor appears either in response to the paragraph (A)(2) notice or following an arrest with a warrant issued pursuant to paragraph (A), the issuing authority shall conduct a hearing to determine whether the contemnor is financially able to pay as ordered.

   (1)  Upon a determination that the defendant is financially able to pay as ordered, the issuing authority may impose imprisonment for nonpayment, as provided by law.

   (2)  Upon a determination that the contemnor is financially unable to pay as ordered, the issuing authority may order a schedule for installment payments.

 (C)  A contemnor may appeal an issuing authority’s determination pursuant to this rule by filing a notice of appeal within 30 days of the issuing authority’s order. The appeal shall proceed as provided in Rule 141.

Comment

   This rule provides the procedures governing defaults in the payment of fines imposed as punishment for contempt in proceedings before magisterial district judges and Pittsburgh Magistrates Court judges. See Rule 140(A)(1) and (B)(3).

   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.

   For contempt procedures generally, see Rule 140.

   As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated in Commonwealth v. McMullen, 961 A.2d 842 (Pa. 2008), legislative limitations on a court’s power to sentence for contempt are unconstitutional.

   When a contemnor defaults on a payment of a fine, paragraph (A) requires the issuing authority to notify the contemnor of the default, and to provide the contemnor with an opportunity to either pay the amount due or appear within a 10-day period to explain why the contemnor should not be imprisoned for nonpayment. If the contemnor fails to pay or appear, the issuing authority must issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the contemnor.

   If the hearing on the default cannot be held immediately, the issuing authority may set bail as provided in Chapter 5 Part C.

   This rule contemplates that when there has been an appeal pursuant to paragraph (C), the case would return to the issuing authority who presided at the default hearing for completion of the collection process.

   Official Note

   Rule 32 adopted October 1, 1997, effective October 1, 1998; renumbered Rule 142 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; amended March 3, 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 32 published with the Court’s 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 Court’s Order at 30 Pa.B. 1478 (March 18, 2000).

   Final Report explaining the March 3, 2004 rule changes deleting ‘‘show cause’’ published with the Court’s Order at 34 Pa.B. 1561 (March 20, 2004).

   Final Report explaining the March 1, 2012 rule changes regarding limitations on punishment for contempt published with the Court’s 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 Court’s 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 Court’s Order at 48 Pa.B. 495 (January 20, 2018).

Source

   The provisions of this Rule 142 amended March 3, 2004, effective July 1, 2004, 34 Pa.B. 1547; 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 preceeding text appears at serial pages (372112) to (372114).



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