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COMMONWEALTH v. DAWKINS ET AL. (03/19/70)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 19, 1970.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DAWKINS ET AL., APPELLANTS

Appeals from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, April T., 1968, No. 2430, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Kemel Dawkins and Doris Mae Dawkins.

COUNSEL

Cassandra Maxwell Birnie, for appellants.

James D. Crawford, Assistant District Attorney, with him Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Spaulding, J. Hoffman, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Spaulding

[ 216 Pa. Super. Page 199]

Appellants, Kemel Dawkins and Doris Mae Dawkins, appeal from the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Section, of Philadelphia County. On January 18, 1968, appellants were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. At a preliminary hearing on January 29, Magistrate Edward Quinn refused to decide the summary charge of disorderly conduct and held appellants for indictment on the charge of resisting arrest. The indictment directed that the summary charge be disposed of at trial. On January 15, 1969, trial was held before Judge James T. McDermott and a jury The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the charge of resisting arrest. Judge McDermott then found appellants guilty of the summary offense of disorderly

[ 216 Pa. Super. Page 200]

    conduct and sentenced them to pay a fine of $10 and costs of $2.50, or, in default of payment, to be committed to the County Prison for thirty days.

Magistrates and justices of the peace have jurisdiction over summary offenses by virtue of the Act of April 26, 1929, P. L. 824, No. 356, § 1, 42 P.S. § 391, and disorderly conduct is defined as a summary offense. Act of June 24, 1939, P. L. 872, § 406, 18 P.S. § 4406. Appellants argue that Section 16(o) of the Schedule to Article V of the revised Pennsylvania Constitution gave the Municipal Court (formerly magistrates' court) exclusive jurisdiction over summary offenses, and that Common Pleas judges may only exercise appellate jurisdiction over those cases. We do not agree.

The power of a Common Pleas judge to sit as a committing magistrate was firmly established under the Constitution of 1874.*fn1 See March v. Commonwealth, 10 Sadler 479, 14 Atl. 375 (1888); Commonwealth ex rel. Levine v. Fair, 186 Pa. Superior Ct. 299, 144 A.2d 395 (1958), rev'd on other grounds, 394 Pa. 262, 146 A.2d 834 (1958); Commonwealth v. Rose, 214 Pa. Superior Ct. 50, 251 A.2d 815 (1969), rev'd on other grounds, 437 Pa. 30, 261 A.2d 586 (1970). The language of Section 16(o) of the Schedule to Article V duplicates the language of the former provisions.*fn2 Further, in the Preface to the Schedule, the legislature

[ 216 Pa. Super. Page 201]

    made the Schedule's provisions effective as of the date of its adoption, April 23, 1968, wherever the word "now" appeared. Since the Schedule was included in the ratification of the new Constitution, effective January 1, 1969, Section 16(o) (a "now" provision), was simultaneously made part of both the old and new Constitutions. We view this Section as newly consolidating all the trial courts into one court, while preserving for the judges of the "new" Court of Common Pleas all powers formerly vested in trial judges, including the power to sit as committing magistrates.*fn3

The judgment of the court below is affirmed.

Disposition

Judgment affirmed.


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