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COMMONWEALTH v. SNYDER (03/25/71)

decided: March 25, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
SNYDER, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentences of Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, No. 236 of 1970, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Roger K. Snyder.

COUNSEL

Robert P. Grim, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

Grant E. Wisner, Assistant District Attorney, with him Robert L. Van Hoove, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell.

Author: Bell

[ 443 Pa. Page 434]

On October 13, 1969, the Mertztown postoffice, in Long Swamp Township, Berks County, was robbed.

[ 443 Pa. Page 435]

Roger K. Snyder, appellant, was arrested, and on February 26, 1970 was indicted by the Berks County grand jury on charges of burglary, larceny, receiving stolen goods, and possession of burglary tools.

Appellant's case was called on June 3, 1970, but a mistrial was declared when it was discovered that the Public Defender representing the appellant had represented the Commonwealth's chief witness in a previous case. Another Public Defender was appointed to represent the appellant, and the second trial commenced before a Judge and jury. On October 1, 1970, the jury found appellant guilty of burglary, larceny and possession of burglary tools, and not guilty of receiving stolen goods. Thereafter a judgment of sentence was entered.

The present appeal was not taken from the judgment of sentence which was imposed by the Court after the aforesaid verdicts; rather, it was taken from the orders of the lower Court imposing sentences for two contempts of Court.

Appellant raises two contentions in this appeal: (1) his behavior was not contemptuous, and (2) he should have been granted a jury trial on the contempt charges. It is important to note at the outset that appellant raises no complaint about the ineffectiveness of counsel, nor does he allege who his uncalled witnesses were or what their testimony would have been if they had been called.

While William Raub, a witness for the Commonwealth, was being cross-examined, appellant slapped his hand loudly on a table and shouted, "You're a liar." The trial Judge did not cite appellant for contempt for this misbehavior, but warned him that such outbursts were not permitted, and that, if it happened again, he would hold the appellant in contempt.

After the defense had finished summation of its argument to the jury, and the Commonwealth was about to begin its ...


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