Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Fayette County, at No. 460 of 1975 at No. 624; No. 269 of 1975 at No. 625; No. 270 of 1975 at No. 626; No. 267 of 1975 at No. 627; No. 370 of 1975 at No. 628; and No. 266 of 1975 at No. 639. Nos. 624, 625, 626, 627, 628 639 April Term, 1976.
R. W. Ziegler, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellant at Nos. 624/628.
Mark F. Geary, Pittsburgh, for appellant at No. 639.
Joseph E. Ferens, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Uniontown, with him Conrad B. Capuzzi, District Attorney, Uniontown, for appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Van der Voort, J., dissents.
[ 247 Pa. Super. Page 268]
The lower court certified the instant case to this Court on a controlling issue of law: whether appellants are entitled to relief pursuant to Rule 1100(f), Pa.R.Crim.P., 19 P.S. Appendix.*fn1 See Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act, July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, No. 223, art. V, § 501; 17 P.S. § 211.501(b).*fn2
[ 247 Pa. Super. Page 269]
We agree that appellants are entitled to relief; we, therefore, order that the charges be dismissed with prejudice. Rule 1100(f).
In 1975, the Fayette County District Attorney filed over 300 criminal complaints charging eleven defendants with burglary, arson, and conspiracy. Several of the defendants were members of the Connellsville Police Department during the commission of the offenses. Known popularly as the "Connellsville Police cases", the various proceedings engendered considerable publicity. See Commonwealth v. Mancuso, 247 Pa. Super. 245, 372 A.2d 444 (filed March 31, 1977; J. 1682/83/76); Commonwealth v. Borris, 247 Pa. Super. 260, 372 A.2d 451 (filed March 31, 1977; J. 1684/76). The facts relevant to appellants' Rule 1100 claim are as follows: the district attorney filed the complaints involved herein between April 28, 1975, and July 22, 1975. Thus, trial should have commenced before October 26, 1975, on the earliest
[ 247 Pa. Super. Page 270]
complaint, and before January 18, 1976, on the last complaint. He submitted the charges to the August Grand Jury which handed down 96 indictments against the six appellants involved in the instant case. When the district attorney became aware that most of the Connellsville Police cases could not be reached within the 180 day period, he petitioned the court on October 14, 1975, for an extension in which to try the cases. See Rule 1100(c). The court heard the motion on October 27, 1975, and on November 25, granted an extension until the December Term, which was the next available trial term. The December Term consisted of the weeks commencing on December 1, and December 8, 1975, and January 12, and January 19, 1976. The Commonwealth was able to try some of the cases during that term. See Commonwealth v. Mancuso, supra; Commonwealth v. Borris, supra. However, most of the charges were still untried at the end of the December Term. On December 26, 1975, appellants moved to quash the indictments for violation of Rule 1100. Because the district attorney could not reach the remaining cases during the December Term, he filed a second petition for an extension pursuant to Rule 1100(c) on February 9, 1976. The court held a hearing on that petition on ...