Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, No. 147 of 1974, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. J. Shane Creamer.
John Rogers Carroll, with him J. Shane Creamer, in propria persona, for appellant.
Paul D. Shafer, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Price, J.
[ 236 Pa. Super. Page 170]
This appeal is before the court upon a certification by the lower court that there are controlling questions of law which are subject to a substantial difference of opinion, and which should be decided in order to expedite the ultimate termination of this litigation. The Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, No. 223, Art. V, § 501 (17 P.S. § 211.501(b)). The two issues so certified are (1) whether Crawford County has venue-jurisdiction of this case, and (2) whether the action is barred by the statute of limitations.
The facts are that on April 1, 1974, an investigating grand jury, which had been specially convened in Crawford County, returned a three-count indictment against J. Shane Creamer, the appellant. Count One alleged that appellant had withheld information from the Pennsylvania State Police concerning James C. Wardrop, a prisoner incarcerated in Greensburg, who had first-hand knowledge of a 1968 homicide which had occurred in Crawford County. This obstruction of justice allegedly began on or about September 1, 1971, and continued through November of 1973.
The second count asserted that appellant had obstructed justice on or about September 1, 1971, by allegedly instructing two state troopers to question James C. Wardrop, who was then incarcerated at Camp Hill, without giving him proper Miranda warnings. Mr. Creamer is alleged to have known, at the time he issued these instructions, that Wardrop was suspected of the 1968 homicide and that he had personal knowledge of the crime. However, the indictment does not allege that the interrogation was to involve the 1968 homicide.
Count Three charged appellant with conspiring with Roy L. Titler, a state police officer, to perform the acts alleged in Counts One and Two. The conspiracy was purportedly formed on or about "September 1 to September 7, 1971."
[ 236 Pa. Super. Page 171]
At the time of the alleged offenses, Mr. Creamer was the Attorney General of the Commonwealth.*fn1 However, he was not charged in his capacity as Attorney General, but only in his individual capacity. Moreover, the parties have stipulated that none of the acts charged in the indictment occurred in Crawford County.
Appellant contends that the indictment against him should have been quashed because Crawford County had no venue-jurisdiction*fn2 and because the prosecution was barred by the statute of limitations.
Appellant's argument concerning Crawford County's lack of jurisdiction is based upon the fact that no act or failure to act charged in the indictment occurred in that county. Appellant asserts that, absent legislation, the jurisdiction of criminal courts extends only to offenses committed within the county which issues the indictment. The Commonwealth, however, contends that Crawford County is the one in which the effect of appellant's alleged actions and inactions was felt. Therefore, because the prosecution believes that justice was ...