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COMMONWEALTH v. FIELD (12/11/72)

decided: December 11, 1972.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
FIELD, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, No. 2815, Oct. T., 1969, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sander L. Field.

COUNSEL

Donald J. Goldberg, with him Louis Lipschitz, for appellant.

James T. Ranney, Assistant District Attorney, with him Gilbert Stein, Special Prosecutor, Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Packel, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J. Wright, P. J., would affirm on the opinion of Judge McDevitt, III. Cercone, J., would grant the motion in arrest of judgment and discharge the defendant.

Author: Jacobs

[ 223 Pa. Super. Page 259]

This is an appeal from defendant Field's conviction for perjury committed before a Philadelphia grand jury. The grand jury had been convened, in part, to investigate why Field had instituted a lawsuit against the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia on January 23, 1969, charging some of its members with an unlawful

[ 223 Pa. Super. Page 260]

    conflict of interest, and why he abruptly settled the suit 5 days later on terms not made public. Called as a witness before the grand jury on April 16, 1969, Field was questioned about any possible financial advantage that may have accrued either to himself*fn1 or to Citizens Bank, of which he was the chairman of the board of directors and principal shareholder, as a result of the settlement of the suit. Specifically, he was asked whether Citizens Bank was offered the position of "lead bank"*fn2 as an inducement to settle the suit. Field denied any connection between the settlement of the suit and negotiations regarding the new "lead bank" appointment. In fact, Field testified that the suit was settled on January 28, 1969, but it was not until March of 1969 that he first discussed with the Redevelopment Authority the possibility of having his bank designated the next "lead bank".*fn3

[ 223 Pa. Super. Page 261]

As a result of the testimony heard by the investigating grand jury, a presentment was returned recommending, inter alia, that Field be indicted for perjury committed before it on April 16, 1969. The court in charge of the investigating grand jury accepted the presentment and asked the district attorney to submit it for action to an indicting grand jury.*fn4 After considering the presentment, the indicting grand jury returned a single-count perjury indictment charging Field with five assignments of perjury.*fn5 A trial ensued following which Field was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to pay a fine of $3,000 and to undergo imprisonment for not less than 2 1/2 nor more than 7 years.

On this direct appeal Field's principal contention is that the lower court improperly overruled his demurrers to the Commonwealth's evidence supporting the five assignments of perjury. With respect to at least two of the assignments we agree, and, since we cannot now determine whether or not the jury's general verdict of guilty was based upon an assignment supported by legally sufficient evidence, we must remand for a new trial.

The five assignments of perjury listed in the indictment are that Field falsely stated before the grand jury (1) that his desire to obtain the Redevelopment Authority's ...


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