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COMMONWEALTH v. WASHINGTON (01/03/68)

decided: January 3, 1968.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WASHINGTON, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Oyer and Terminer, Quarter Sessions of the Peace, and General Jail Delivery of Philadelphia County, Feb. T., 1966, No. 402, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. James Washington.

COUNSEL

William G. Klenk, II, with him Paul M. Chalfin, for appellant.

Alan J. Davis, Assistant District Attorney, with him Joel S. Moldovsky, Assistant District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 428 Pa. Page 132]

This case presents to our Court a matter which is one of first impression -- a defendant's right to appeal from denial of his motion filed pursuant to Rule 324 of Criminal Procedure*fn1 to suppress a statement allegedly obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436,

[ 428 Pa. Page 13386]

S. Ct. 1602 (1966). We hold that the decision below refusing to suppress appellant's statement is not at this juncture appealable and therefore this appeal must be quashed.

Appellant relies primarily upon subsection (e) of Rule 324,*fn2 and insists that he may appeal because the determination made at the suppression hearing is "final". He distinguishes both Commonwealth ex rel. Fisher v. Stitzel, 418 Pa. 356, 211 A.2d 457 (1965)*fn3 and Commonwealth v. Bosurgi, 411 Pa. 56, 190 A.2d 304, cert. denied, 375 U.S. 910, 84 S. Ct. 204 (1963) on the dual grounds that these two decisions concerned motions to suppress made prior to the effective date of Rule 324 and were premised in great measure upon the fact that attacks against an allegedly involuntary

[ 428 Pa. Page 134]

    statement*fn4 or against the admission of allegedly illegally seized evidence*fn5 can be reasserted at trial. Albeit dictum, Bosurgi contains perhaps the best statement governing a defendant's right to appeal a pretrial refusal to suppress evidence (411 Pa. at 64, 190 A.2d at 308-09): "The right of appeal by a defendant stands upon an entirely different footing. The denial of a defendant's motion for the suppression of evidence does not deprive a defendant of an appellate review of the validity of that order. At trial, the defendant still has full opportunity to object to the introduction into evidence of the allegedly improper evidence and, in the event of his conviction, he will then have an opportunity to secure an appellate evaluation of the propriety and admissibility of such evidence. Therefore, unlike the Commonwealth, an adverse pretrial disposition of a motion to suppress evidence does not deprive the defendant of his only opportunity for appellate review. Under such circumstances, the element of finality, which is the basis of appealability, is lacking in an order denying suppression and the defendant should have no right of appeal from such order."

Although the above quotation does stress the defendant's ability to relitigate the admissibility of the challenged evidence, a relitigation not permitted under orders entered pursuant to a Rule 324 hearing, it is obvious that the core difference between the Commonwealth's and the defendant's right to appeal pretrial suppression orders is to be found in the fact that the Commonwealth cannot appeal from an acquittal. Thus, if the Commonwealth is deprived of the ...


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