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COMMONWEALTH v. COFFEY (09/23/74)

decided: September 23, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
COFFEY, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, June T., 1972, Nos. 6720A and 5166, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Maureen Coffey.

COUNSEL

Clencie L. Cotton, for appellant.

Robert L. Eberhardt, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J. Hoffman, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Jacobs

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 50]

This is an appeal from appellant's conviction on several charges of possessing and dealing in illegal

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 51]

    drugs. Several issues are raised which we find to be without merit, and we affirm the conviction.

The first issue we will consider is whether the lower court should have suppressed certain evidence seized by police, because the search warrant they used was not based on probable cause. "Probable cause requires proof of facts and circumstances as would excite an honest belief in a reasonable mind, acting on all the facts and circumstances within knowledge of the magistrate, that the charge made by the applicant for the warrant is true." Commonwealth v. Crawley, 209 Pa. Superior Ct. 70, 78, 223 A.2d 885, 890 (1966), quoting Commonwealth v. Griffin, 200 Pa. Superior Ct. 34, 39, 186 A.2d 656, 658 (1962). Moreover, the information found in the affidavit for the search warrant need not reflect the personal observations of the affiant, but can be based on information received from an informant. Commonwealth v. Crawley, supra. In the present case, the affidavit for the search warrant disclosed that the informant "was in [appellant's] residence twice in the past week of December 19, 1971, and bought heroin from Maureen [appellant] on one occasion, and her mother on another occasion." The affidavit further disclosed the names and addresses of two persons arrested and convicted on information that had been previously supplied by this informant. We are convinced that the affidavit for the search warrant contained sufficient information to support the reliability of the informant and establish probable cause. Compare Commonwealth v. Brown, 228 Pa. Superior Ct. 158, 323 A.2d 104 (1974) (probable cause for warrantless arrest not established).*fn1

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 52]

Appellant's second argument is that she was prejudiced because the court below refused to require the production of a certain witness, held as a prisoner by federal authorities, who would have proved helpful to her defense. An accused's right "to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor" is guaranteed by the Constitution of Pennsylvania in Article I, ยง 9. However, implicit in such a right is the requirement that the defendant establish that the person to be produced has relevant or material testimony on the issues in question. See State v. Lerner, 308 A.2d 324 (R.I. 1973). In the present case, the record reveals that defense counsel agreed to contact the prisoner to ascertain what his testimony would cover. Although counsel did, on one occasion, contact the prisoner and request an affidavit from him as to the basis of his proposed testimony, no affidavit was forthcoming when the case was called for trial. Because such specific information to advise the court what this witness had to offer was not presented, the lower court properly declined to order the witness's production.

For her third argument, appellant claims that she was denied her right to a speedy trial which is guaranteed by both the Federal and our Commonwealth's Constitutions. Appellant was arrested for the present offenses on or about December 23, 1971, and May 18, 1972. On January 21, 1972, she was released upon posting an appearance bond. On May 31, 1972, after her second arrest, she was again released on bail pending trial. In June of 1972, the grand jury returned the indictment for the aforementioned charges. It was not, however, until January 24, 1974, that she received her trial. Thus, at first glance, the period of delay from arrest until trial was 25 months for ...


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