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COMMONWEALTH v. GODFREY (03/24/55)

March 24, 1955

COMMONWEALTH
v.
GODFREY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 24, March T., 1955, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of York County, Oct. T., 1953, No. 80, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. James E. Godfrey. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Henry C. Kessler, Jr., with him Robert J. Brown, for appellant.

George W. Atkins, District Attorney, with him Nevin Stetler, First Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Ross

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 642]

OPINION BY ROSS, J.,

This is an appeal from the refusal of a new trial after a conviction of involuntary manslaughter arising from an automobile collision.

On November 22, 1952 at about 1:30 a.m., an automobile driven by the defendant eastwardly on U.S. Route No. 30 near York collided with an automobile driven by Howard Miller in the opposite direction. In the Miller automobile at the time were Elena Reever, who lost her life as a result of the collision, Marguerite Stouch and Lloyd Stermer. The highway at the point of collision is three-lane and the collision occurred on Miller's lane of traffic. After the jury returned a verdict of guilty and the defendant's motion for a new trial was refused, he took this appeal.

The defendant does not question the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction but contends that the court below committed certain trial errors.

At the start of the trial defendant's counsel moved for the sequestration of the Commonwealth's witnesses, Howard C. Miller, Marguerite Stouch and Lloyd Stermer. This motion was overruled and the appellant contends that this ruling was in error.

Admittedly, sequestration of witnesses is discretionary with the trial court (Com. v. Sloat, 298 Pa. 10, 147 A. 834), but appellant, relying upon Com. v. Turner, 371 Pa. 417, 88 A.2d 915, contends that the trial court here abused its discretion in not sequestering the witnesses because the Commonwealth's "entire case rests upon the credibility" of the named witnesses. If that were true, the rule in Pennsylvania would no longer be that sequestration of witnesses is within the discretion of the trial judge, for very few cases do not turn in some degree upon the credibility of witnesses.

In the Turner case the Supreme Court had before it an appeal arising from the third ...


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