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COMMONWEALTH v. GARNETT (09/17/64)

decided: September 17, 1964.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
GARNETT, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia County, March T., 1963, No. 345, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Edward Garnett.

COUNSEL

Charles L. Durham, with him Calvin T. Wilson, Sr., for appellant.

Vincent C. Veldorale, Assistant District Attorney, with him Thomas M. Reed, Assistant District Attorney, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., First Assistant District Attorney, and James C. Crumlish, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Ervin, Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (Rhodes, P. J., absent). Opinion by Wright, J. Flood, J., would grant a new trial.

Author: Wright

[ 204 Pa. Super. Page 115]

Edward Garnett was indicted by the grand jury of Philadelphia County on Bill No. 1778 March Sessions 1963, charging possession and sale of a narcotic drug. Act of September 26, 1961, P. L. 1664, Section 20, as amended, 35 P.S. 780-20. He entered a plea of not guilty, and was tried before a jury with Judge Doty presiding. At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's testimony, a demurrer to the evidence was overruled. The jury returned a verdict of guilty. Motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were denied, and sentence was imposed. This appeal followed.

Briefly summarized, and viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, Commonwealth v. McLaughlin, 202 Pa. Superior Ct. 520, 198 A.2d 419, the evidence established the following factual situation: On October 10, 1962, an officer of the Philadelphia Police Department, while working as an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, paid appellant the sum of two dollars and received in return two paper packets in cigarette form containing a loose weed. The officer placed these packets in an envelope which he initialed. The envelope was handed to a federal agent, who in turn gave it to the chief chemist of the United States Internal Revenue Department. The

[ 204 Pa. Super. Page 116]

    chemist analyzed the weed in the packets and determined that it was marihuana, a narcotic drug.

Appellant first contends that the trial judge erred in not requiring the Commonwealth to produce one Jack Ennis, an alleged eyewitness to the transaction. The name of Jack Ennis was not endorsed on the bill of indictment, and he had not testified before the grand jury. His whereabouts were unknown to the Commonwealth. As a general rule, eyewitnesses should normally be called or produced: Commonwealth v. Sarkis, 164 Pa. Superior Ct. 194, 63 A.2d 360. However, the calling of witnesses is within the discretion of the district attorney under the general supervision of the trial judge: Commonwealth v. Palermo, 368 Pa. 28, 81 A.2d 540; Commonwealth ex rel. Jones v. Myers, 201 Pa. Superior Ct. 437, 193 A.2d 629. "There is no duty on the Commonwealth to call witnesses whose names appear on a bill of indictment or even eyewitnesses, if it believes after examination or investigation that their testimony is unreliable, or unworthy of belief, or surplusage or irrelevant": Commonwealth v. Horn, 395 Pa. 585, 150 A.2d 872. The prosecution is not bound to produce or to call as a witness every person who may have some knowledge of the crime: Commonwealth v. Gallagher, 200 Pa. Superior Ct. 136, 186 A.2d 842. See also Commonwealth v. Francis, 201 Pa. Superior Ct. 313, 191 A.2d 884; Commonwealth v. Taraborelli, 202 Pa. Superior Ct. 356, 195 A.2d 888.

Appellant places reliance on Commonwealth v. Cramer, 168 Pa. Superior Ct. 1, 76 A.2d 661, and Commonwealth v. Drew, 190 Pa. Superior Ct. 478, 154 A.2d 285. In the Cramer case, this court granted a new trial because it clearly appeared that the witnesses in question were essential and could have been produced by the Commonwealth. There is no indication in the present record that the Commonwealth made any effort to conceal Ennis or to suppress his testimony. Indeed,

[ 204 Pa. Super. Page 117]

    it is stated in the opinion below that "there is nothing in the record to support the statement that Ennis was an actual eyewitness to this transaction". The Drew case does not support appellant's contention. It involved (as does the instant case) a charge of possession and sale of narcotic drugs. A continuance was requested until an alleged eyewitness was produced. The continuance was refused by the ...


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