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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. VIRGINIA MITCHELL (09/27/76)

decided: September 27, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
VIRGINIA MITCHELL, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA V. BARRY E. GRAHAM, APPELLANT



Appeal from Order of Court of Common Pleas, Lancaster County, Criminal Division, at No. 112C and 114C of 1975. No. 68 October Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

Edward F. Browne, Jr., Asst. Public Defender, Lancaster, for appellants.

D. Richard Eckman, Dist. Atty., Charles A. Achey, Jr., Joseph C. Madenspacher, Asst. Dist. Attys., Ronald L. Buckwalter, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., Lancaster, for appellee.

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

Author: Cercone

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 544]

These consolidated*fn1 appeals challenge the validity of an unwritten rule of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 545]

County requiring that any person who elects to appeal a summary conviction to the Court of Common Pleas must first furnish "bail" in the amount of $100 per conviction before his appeal will be perfected.

The pertinent events giving rise to these appeals may be briefly summarized. Both appellants were charged -- but before different issuing authorities -- with issuing bad checks. Act of December 6, 1972, P.L. 1482, No. 334, § 1, 18 Pa.C.S. § 4105. Since none of the checks involved exceeded $200 in amount, appellants were charged with summary offenses. Id. Appellant Mitchell was convicted on two counts and sentenced to serve two consecutive terms of imprisonment of 60 days each, plus costs and restitution. In addition, a fine of $100 was imposed on one of the counts. Appellant Graham was sentenced to pay costs and make restitution. In neither case did the issuing authority make any determination as to bail following the conviction.

Within ten days of the issuing authority's decision, Mitchell's counsel, in accordance with Rules 67 and 68 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, attempted to appeal her summary convictions to the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County. The Clerk of Courts, however, advised counsel that the notices of appeal would not be accepted until "bail" in the amount of $100 per each conviction was posted.*fn2 Since Mitchell could not post the requisite $200, her counsel was not permitted to file the notices of appeal. Shortly thereafter Mitchell filed a petition to proceed in forma pauperis alleging her financial inability to furnish the $200 recognizance and, therefore, requesting permission to perfect her appeal

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 546]

    without the necessity of complying with the lower court's unwritten policy. This request was denied.

Appellant Graham was similarly denied the right to appeal his summary conviction notwithstanding his filing of an "Application To File Summary Appeal ...


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