Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Police Informant's Identity Protected; Investigation Spurred by Accusation Merit Less

Pennsylvania policeman Mathew Barton appealed the dismissal of his action to compel Inspector Ralph Penco, the Police Commissioner, and the City of Philadelphia to disclose the identity of an informant who accused him of receiving stolen property. No action was taken because the accusation was meritless. The court affirmed the dismissal of Barton's suit.

Barton directly appealed the denial of a mandatory injunction by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County claiming that the information requested was public and that he was entitled to it under the Right to Know Act (Act); he stated he might pursue civil action against the informant for defamation.

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania allowed the direct appeal without the required prior filing of exception because the trial court's order did not comply with adjudication requirements (statement of issues, closely condensed chronological statement detailing facts, questions of law and conclusions, decree nisi). It was held that since Barton was not disciplined or prosecuted and the accusation did not affect his employment, no benefit of production to the public existed. The court further held that the information requested was not "public record" under the Act because it was the result of an investigation by an agency performing its official duties. See: Barton v. Penco, 292 Pa.Super. 202, 436 A.2d 1222 (Pa. Super. 1981).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Barton v. Penco