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COMMONWEALTH v. WILLIAMS (09/05/67)

decided: September 5, 1967.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WILLIAMS, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer and Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County, May T., 1966, Nos. 6492, 6495, and 6502, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Ronald Williams.

COUNSEL

Benjamin Lerner, Assistant Defender, with him Melvin Dildine, Assistant Defender, and Herman I. Pollock, Defender, for appellant.

David L. Creskoff, Assistant District Attorney, with him Alan J. Davis, Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Dissenting Opinion by Hoffman, J. Spaulding, J., joins in this dissent.

Author: Per Curiam

Judgment of sentence affirmed.

Disposition

Judgment affirmed.

Dissenting Opinion by Hoffman, J.:

I respectfully dissent.

Defendant, Ronald Williams, was indicted and charged with aggravated robbery, rape and related offenses. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts.

On appeal, defendant contends that the trial judge committed fundamental error by improperly instructing the jury on the Commonwealth's burden in a criminal case.

At the outset, the trial judge defined "reasonable doubt" only as ". . . something that would make a mature person pause before jumping at a conclusion. . . ." Later in his charge, he instructed the jurors that: "If you feel that [the] testimony does not substantially [establish defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt], based on the credibility of the witnesses, then you are not required to bring in a conviction." (Emphasis supplied).

In my view, these instructions were highly prejudicial. As our Supreme Court has often stressed, the defendant was entitled to a charge which described the doubt requiring an acquittal in the context of a matter of importance to the individual ...


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