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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DAVID BELL (11/22/76)

decided: November 22, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
DAVID BELL, APPELLEE



No. 1977 October Term, 1975 Appeal from an Order denying a Petition to Extend and the granting of a Petition to Dismiss pursuant to Pa.R. Cr.P. 1100 at 1204 of 1975 sessions, Court of Common Pleas, Bucks County, Criminal Division.

COUNSEL

Stephen B. Harris, First Assistant District Attorney, Warrington, for appellant.

Richard S. Wasserbly, Assistant Public Defender, Doylestown, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Watkins, President Judge, concurs in the result. Cercone, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Price

[ 245 Pa. Super. Page 165]

This appeal presents yet another new and very narrow question for decision under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100. Where the action is instituted against a juvenile by a delinquency petition and subsequently certified to the Criminal Division of a Court of Common Pleas for full criminal trial, when does the allowable period of 180 days under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 start for purposes of insuring prompt trial? The lower court answered this question by starting the time on the date of filing the delinquency petition and granted appellee's petition to dismiss and discharged appellee. We reverse.

On February 7, 1975, the delinquency petition was filed in the lower court alleging that appellee was involved in a series of burglaries in Bucks County. Appellee requested that the case be certified to the Criminal Division for adult proceedings. On March 31, 1975, a hearing was held on this petition and appellee's petition was granted. The case was transferred on that date. On May 30, 1975, appellee was indicted. His case was listed for trial on June 16, 1975. Trial, however, was continued because of the lack of available court rooms.

[ 245 Pa. Super. Page 166]

On July 24, 1975, the Commonwealth petitioned for an extension of time pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(c) and a hearing on said petition was scheduled for August 11, 1975. On August 8, 1975, appellee, claiming the 180 day period commenced on February 7, 1975, and hence expired on August 6, 1975, filed a petition to dismiss pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(f). On August 11, 1975, after a hearing on both petitions, the lower court denied the Commonwealth's petition to extend and granted the appellee's petition to dismiss.

We need not decide whether or not the lower court was correct in denying the Commonwealth's petition for extension since we hold that the lower court did err in considering the delinquency petition as the starting point for computation of the 180 day period under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has clearly indicated to the contrary in Pa.R.Crim.P. 1(a) by excluding juvenile proceedings from the ambit of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. Indeed, a major purpose for the establishment of specialized juvenile proceedings was to protect juveniles from the full thrust of adult criminal justice.

As a basis for its decision, the lower court places great reliance upon Geiger Appeal, 454 Pa. 51, 309 A.2d 559 (1973). We agree that the Geiger decision is important to the resolution of the problem; however, as we interpret Geiger, it in fact supports our decision to reverse.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Geiger, supra at 56, 309 A.2d at 562 quoting Pa.R.Crim.P. 1(a), clearly recognizes that:

"Unless otherwise specifically provided, these rules shall not apply to juvenile or domestic proceedings nor to summary ...


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