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COMMONWEALTH v. CARROLL (06/28/71)

decided: June 28, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CARROLL, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Superior Court, April T., 1969, No. 279, affirming judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, No. 1431 of 1967, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Samuel Carroll.

COUNSEL

James F. Toohey, with him Quinn, Plate, Gent, Buseck and Leemhuis, for appellant.

Robert H. Chase, Assistant District Attorney, with him Michael M. Palmisano, Assistant District Attorney, and William E. Pfadt, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 443 Pa. Page 520]

On the evening of July 31, 1967, the City of Erie experienced some racial disturbance and the police were patrolling the general neighborhood around 18th and Holland Streets. There were several fires reported in that area, and a fire was burning just north of the intersection of 18th and Holland Streets. Fire trucks and equipment were parked near the intersection and a large crowd had gathered in the area. At approximately eight o'clock p.m. the police discovered some flammable material near a building close to the intersection and attempted to arrest a person named Benny Wall in connection with these materials. Wall was standing in a crowd of about one hundred persons in front of a tavern known as the Chesterfield Lounge, located on the southeast corner of the intersection of 18th and Holland Streets. Wall resisted arrest and the arresting officers called for help.

[ 443 Pa. Page 521]

In the midst of this confusion, Officers Woolis and Crock arrived in a patrol car with two police dogs and they parked their car approximately 126 feet north of the intersection in an alley. Upon hearing the cries for help from their fellow officers who were arresting Wall, they ran with their dogs south to the intersection and then east on 18th Street to the patrol car, where the officers were struggling with Wall. Somewhere along their short path of travel, bottles were thrown at Officers Woolis and Crock.

About an hour later, Officer Woolis returned to the Chesterfield Lounge and arrested Samuel Carroll, the appellant, for participating in a riot by throwing a bottle. Appellant, a Negro male, was working at the time of the arrest as a bartender at the Chesterfield Lounge. A short time later, Officer Crock entered the Chesterfield Lounge and arrested Earl Lee Barnett for participating in a riot by throwing a bottle.

Appellant Carroll and Barnett were tried jointly and were found by a jury guilty of participating in a riot. The lower Court denied defendants' motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment. On May 5, 1969, appellant was sentenced to the Allegheny Workhouse for a period of 1 1/2 to 3 years. The Superior Court affirmed, Per Curiam, and we granted allocatur.

The central question in this appeal was appellant's challenge to the jury array and the jury panel, because the jury panel from which the jury which tried this case was selected, did not include any Negroes. Appellant contends that in the light of these facts he was denied Equal Protection of the Law because the jury that convicted him was necessarily biased and did not reflect a true cross-section of the community. In essence, appellant attacks the jury selection system in Erie which gathered the names for the jury panel (see infra), and contends that the system discriminates against Negroes

[ 443 Pa. Page 522]

    and other minority groups, as well as people in a lower ...


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