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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MARY SEABROOK (10/28/77)

decided: October 28, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
MARY SEABROOK, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Lawrence S. Rosenwald, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Gaele M. Barthold, Philadelphia, for appellee.

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

Author: Pomeroy

[ 475 Pa. Page 40]

OPINION OF THE COURT

In this appeal from a conviction for voluntary manslaughter*fn1 the principal issue*fn2 is whether the appellant was deprived of a fair trial on the merits because of the conduct of the judge presiding at the suppression hearing. We find appellant's argument to be without merit, and affirm.

I.

[ 475 Pa. Page 41]

At the suppression hearing, Detective Herbert Winston testified that he read the warnings required by Miranda v. Page 41} Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966) to appellant from a standard " Miranda card" and entered her answers on a standard interview sheet. The questions are not reprinted on the interview sheet; instead, seven spaces are provided on the sheet for the recording of the suspect's answers. After appellant had answered the first six questions in such a way as to indicate that she wished to waive her Miranda rights, Detective Winston asked her the seventh and last question: "Are you willing to answer questions of your own free will, without force or fear, and without any threats or promises having been made to you?" To this, Detective Winston testified, appellant answered "yes," but he mistakenly entered "no" on the interview sheet.*fn3 The suppression judge at this point asked several questions to clarify the testimony. Appellant's counsel asked no questions about this matter on cross-examination, but did bring out that there was a second officer, Detective Michael McKay, present during some of the interrogation. When the suppression judge learned in response to his own questions that Detective McKay had also filled out an interview sheet and that Detective Winston had not noted McKay's presence on his chronology sheet, the judge remarked that these circumstances were "a bit unusual in my experience." N.T. (Suppression Hearing) 88.

[ 475 Pa. Page 42]

After a recess, Detective McKay took the stand and testified that he was in the interview room for training and observation purposes, since he had just been assigned to the Homicide Unit, and that he prepared an interview sheet so that he "could compare later and see where I was possibly making mistakes." N.T. (Suppression Hearing) 107. The assistant district attorney did not question Detective McKay about his record or recollection of appellant's answers to the Miranda questions. The suppression judge then began a series of questions, to which appellant's counsel objected. In answer to one question McKay testified that he had recorded Ms. Seabrook's response to the seventh Miranda warning as "yes." The court then asked additional questions concerned with what the detective had heard and the accuracy of his record.*fn4 Appellant argues that this and other conduct of the

[ 475 Pa. Page 43]

    suppression judge reveals his pro-prosecution bias and his advocacy of the Commonwealth's case. We are thus asked to conclude that the court's refusal to suppress the defendant's statement was the product of this ...


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