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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WINDMARK MITCHELL (04/28/77)

decided: April 28, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
WINDMARK MITCHELL, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Shuman, Lawler & Levy, Arthur R. Shuman, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., James A. Shellenberger, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Eagen

[ 472 Pa. Page 558]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On July 6, 1975, James Fulton was fatally shot during the course of a robbery in a private residence at 3135 West Arizona Street, Philadelphia. On the same day, a criminal complaint, charging Windmark Mitchell with murder, robbery, and related offenses, was filed, and a warrant for Mitchell's arrest issued. On November 19, 1975, Mitchell was arrested. A preliminary hearing was held on November 20, 1975. On March 22, 1976, pretrial motions and an application to dismiss the charges pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(f) were filed. A hearing on the application to dismiss was held on March 31 and April 1, 1976 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.*fn1

The hearing court denied the motion on April 15, 1976. On April 19, 1976, pursuant to the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. 673, No. 223, Art. V, § 501, 17 P.S. § 211.501(b) (Supp.1976-77), the court certified the order as involving "a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for

[ 472 Pa. Page 559]

    difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the matter . . . ." Mitchell filed a petition for allowance of appeal and the Commonwealth filed an answer to the petition stating it had no objection to granting the petition. On June 26, 1976, we granted the petition. The appeal was filed on June 30, 1976.

The initial issue presented is at what point does the mandatory period in which to commence trial under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 begin to run. Section (a)(2) of Rule 1100 provides:

"Trial in a court case in which a written complaint is filed against the defendant . . . shall commence no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date on which the complaint is filed." [Emphasis added.]

Thus, in terms of the Rule, the issue is when is a complaint deemed filed.

The Comment to Rule 1100 states that a complaint for purposes of the Rule "includes special documents used in lieu of a complaint to initiate criminal proceedings in extraordinary circumstances . . . ." [Emphasis added]. Thus, it is clear that Rule 1100 contemplates the commencement of the running of the mandatory period at the point criminal proceedings are initiated.

Pa.R.Crim.P. 101 states, inter alia, that criminal proceedings are instituted by a written complaint. Thus, in the situation where a complaint is presented to a court and a warrant issued, the criminal proceedings begin with the presentation of the complaint to the court, and thus, for purposes of Rule 1100, the complaint is deemed filed and the mandatory period commences running with the presentation.*fn2 Therefore, the mandatory

[ 472 Pa. Page 560]

    period instantly commenced running on July 6, 1975, when the ...


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