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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. FRANCIS L. CONRAD (06/28/76)

decided: June 28, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
FRANCIS L. CONRAD, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Criminal Division, at No. 569 of 1974. NO. 1684 OCTOBER TERM, 1975.

COUNSEL

William R. Bernhart, Reading, for appellant.

Grant E. Wesner, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Reading, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ.

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 241 Pa. Super. Page 325]

Appellant Francis L. Conrad was tried on October 21-22, 1974, by a judge and jury, was found guilty of receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy, and aiding the consummation of a crime, and was sentenced on June 11, 1975, to pay a fine of $2,500.00, to make restitution, and to serve three to seven years imprisonment. On appeal from the judgment of sentence, appellant argues that "the trial judge erred in refusing to grant a mistrial when it was revealed that the trial judge had discussed

[ 241 Pa. Super. Page 326]

    with the father of the chief witness against the defendant certain matters pertaining to that witness." We find that the trial judge properly refused to withdraw from the case, and we affirm the judgment of sentence.

The following remarks were made on-the-record at sidebar:

"THE COURT: . . . I received a phone call from a man who identified himself as Hogue's father. [Hogue was the co-defendant, who had previously pleaded guilty]. He said he was much concerned with the boy and the problem and I can't repeat the conversation entirely but I believe he is married and has a job and he wanted the boy to make good, and I told the father what the recommendation from the probation office was and said, in view of all the places that were entered, while I appreciated the father's feelings, I did not see how any other lesser sentence could be justified. I think the father also said that 30 some years ago, or about 30 years ago when I first went into politics, he supported me. This was all by a conversation on the telephone but I just happened to recall it and thought I had better put it on the record for the protection of everybody. My answer to him was that I thought the recommendation was very reasonable considering all the cases and I thought the father should realize the amount of time the boy could get, and I thought the recommendation was more than reasonable."

After listening to these remarks of the trial judge, appellant's attorney discussed the matter with appellant and requested a mistrial. The lower court denied the motion.

"THE COURT: If defense counsel could put anything on the record that would indicate I would be prejudiced in this case or ...


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