Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

COMMONWEALTH v. RANSOM (03/20/72)

decided: March 20, 1972.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
RANSOM, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, July T., 1967, No. 1420, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Stephen Ransom.

COUNSEL

Andrew G. Gay, for appellant.

Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, with him Esther Sylvester, Assistant District Attorney, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Pomeroy concurs in the result. The former Mr. Chief Justice Bell and the former Mr. Justice Barbieri took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 446 Pa. Page 459]

Appellant, Stephen Ransom, was convicted of first degree murder after a jury trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. He had been charged, along with two accomplices, with assaulting and robbing one James Bryant and causing Bryant's death by fatal stabbing.

Appellant, tried alone, raises two contentions on this direct appeal: (1) the trial court improperly admitted into evidence over objection testimony summarizing the confessions of appellant's accomplices, thus denying appellant his Sixth Amendment right of confrontation; (2) the use, over objection, of testimony offered by appellant during the juvenile certification hearing at the subsequent adult trial violated the statutory bar against admission of "any evidence given in a juvenile court" "in any case or proceeding in any other court."*fn1 Since the trial court committed error in both instances, we vacate the judgment of sentence and remand the record for a new trial.

Denial of Confrontation Rights

At appellant's trial, a police detective testified for the Commonwealth over objection as follows: "Q. [Prosecutor] Detective, his Honor has ruled that you may testify in this area. Tell these ladies and gentlemen precisely what you said to the accused in terms of what the others had said about him and then what his response is. Make this very clear. Go ahead. A. [Officer] I told him that Lawrence Tindal had stated that he, Jerome Layton and Steven Ransom were together when they attacked the man; and that

[ 446 Pa. Page 460]

Steven Ransom was the one that stabbed the man. I told him that Jerome Layton had stated that he, Tindal and Steven Ransome were all together when they attacked the man; and that the defendant, Steven Ransom, was the one that 'shanked the man.' Q. Shanked? A. 'Shanked' the man. Q. What does that mean? A. It means to stab. . . ."

Appellant maintains that the admission of this hearsay testimony of the confessions of his two accomplices who never testified at his trial violates his Sixth Amendment right of confrontation. The Commonwealth argues that the testimony was admissible under the well-recognized exception to the hearsay rule permitting the use of a conspirator's statement made during the course of the conspiracy against other coconspirators.

In Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400, 85 S. Ct. 1065 (1965), the Sixth Amendment right of confrontation was guaranteed in state trials through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court has since clearly indicated that the Sixth Amendment right of confrontation is not a "codification" of the hearsay rule. In California v. Green, 399 U.S. 149, 90 S. Ct. 1930 (1970), it was observed: "While it may readily be conceded that hearsay rules and the Confrontation Clause are generally designed to protect similar values, it is quite a different thing to suggest that the overlap is complete and that the Confrontation Clause is nothing more or less than a codification of the rules of hearsay and their exceptions as they existed historically at common law. Our decisions have never established such a congruence; indeed, we have more than once found a violation of confrontation values even though the statements in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.