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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LAWRENCE TRIPLETT (05/13/75)

decided: May 13, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LAWRENCE TRIPLETT, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Nicholas J. Nastasi, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Bonnie Leadbetter, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy, J., filed a concurring opinion. Jones, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion. Eagen, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: O'brien

[ 462 Pa. Page 245]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Lawrence Triplett, a Philadelphia police officer, was tried by a judge sitting without a jury and found guilty of burglary, larceny and receiving stolen

[ 462 Pa. Page 246]

    goods. Post-trial motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to a term of one and one-half to five years in a state correctional institution. An appeal to the Superior Court resulted in an affirmance of appellant's conviction. We granted allocatur and now reverse.

The facts surrounding this appeal are as follows: On December 25, 1971, a burglary occurred at the Delmonico warehouse in the City of Philadelphia. Appellant and another police officer, in response to a radio call, proceeded to the warehouse. After their arrival at the scene, appellant and a fellow officer, finding no one in the warehouse, removed for their own benefit eight television sets. During the course of the removal of the television sets, appellant and his fellow officers were confronted by other members of the Philadelphia police force, who at trial testified that they saw appellant assist in the removal of the television sets. As a result of this conduct, appellant was taken before his police superiors and questioned. He was then arrested and convicted of the crimes of burglary, larceny and receiving stolen goods.

We granted allocatur in this case to determine whether the decision of Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222, 91 S.Ct. 643, 28 L.Ed.2d 1 (1971) is applicable to the instant case, and whether this jurisdiction should follow the ruling of Harris.

The Harris decision became relevant in the instant case in the following manner. As a result of appellant's actions at the Delmonico warehouse, he was called to police headquarters and questioned by his superiors. Before the questioning of appellant began, he was given "charter warnings," which consisted of "I wish to inform you that this is an official investigation, and under the provisions of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, Section 10-110, you are required to cooperate fully and

[ 462 Pa. Page 247]

    answer all questions. Do you understand?" Section 10-110 of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter reads as follows:

"If any officer or employee of the City shall willfully refuse or fail to appear before any court, or before the Council, or any committee thereof, or before any officer, department, board, commission or body authorized to conduct any hearing or inquiry, or having appeared, shall refuse to testify or to answer any question relating to the affairs or government of the City or the conduct of any City officer or employee on the ground that his testimony or answers would tend to incriminate him, or shall refuse to waive immunity from prosecution on account of any matter about which he may be asked to testify before such court or at ...


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