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COMMONWEALTH v. KARAFIN (06/14/73)

decided: June 14, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
KARAFIN, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, July T., 1968, No. 1512, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Harry J. Karafin.

COUNSEL

Francis S. Wright, Assistant Defender, with him Jonathan Miller, Assistant Defender, and Vincent J. Ziccardi, Defender, for appellant.

Benjamin H. Levintow, Assistant District Attorney, with him Milton M. Stein, Assistant 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 Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Cercone, J. Watkins, J., dissents.

Author: Cercone

[ 224 Pa. Super. Page 450]

Defendant Harry J. Karafin was charged with and found guilty after trial by jury of the crime of perjury. He was sentenced to a term of not less than two years nor more than seven years, which was to begin at the expiration of the four to nine year aggregate term he was then serving on conviction of numerous indictments charging, inter alia, blackmail, extortion, and

[ 224 Pa. Super. Page 451]

    unlawful solicitation by employe. While these latter charges were being processed against him, defendant, who was at that time an investigative reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, sought to charge the Philadelphia District Attorney, Arlen Specter, and his Assistant District Attorney, William H. Wolf, Jr., with maliciously conspiring to have him falsely indicted on these charges and with intimidating and harassing divers people in an effort to obtain testimony against him regardless of the truth.

When several magistrates of the City of Philadelphia and several judges of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia refused to consider defendant's complaint against the District Attorney and his Assistant, defendant petitioned the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which court referred the matter to the Honorable Vincent A. Carroll, then President and Administrative Judge of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia. In accordance with the directive from the Supreme Court, Judge Carroll, joined by Judge Nix (now Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania) held a hearing at which Harry Karafin, the defendant, was permitted to submit to the court the "complaint" he had prepared, the essential allegation of which was, as aforesaid, that the District Attorney and his Assistant maliciously conspired to have him falsely indicted and intimidated and harassed divers people in an effort to obtain testimony against him regardless of the truth. In addition to the written complaint, defendant gave certain sworn oral testimony. The complaint, however, was summarily dismissed by Judges Carroll and Nix for want of probable cause.

Several weeks later appellant was charged in one bill of indictment with having committed perjury as to four separate matters during the hearing before Judge Carroll. As already stated, after trial by jury, defendant

[ 224 Pa. Super. Page 452]

    was found guilty on that perjury indictment.*fn1 Thereafter, defendant argued motions in arrest of judgment and for new trial which were refused by the court below. Defendant Karafin has appealed to this court, raising several important and serious issues.

The indictment charges that appellant "upon his oath aforesaid did willfully, corruptly, and falsely swear and testify in certain answers to ...


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