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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LESLIE EARP (01/26/78)

decided: January 26, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LESLIE EARP, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Stephen G. Young, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Eagen, C. J., concurs in the result. Pomeroy, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which O'Brien and Larsen, JJ., join. Larsen, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Roberts

[ 476 Pa. Page 371]

OPINION

This appeal presents the issue of whether an accused not brought to trial as required by Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 on charges arising out of a criminal transaction may, under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100, be later brought to trial on other charges arising out of the same criminal transaction.*fn1 We hold that he cannot.*fn2

I

On July 28, 1974, appellant Leslie Earp was arrested and charged with murder, conspiracy, and several other offenses

[ 476 Pa. Page 372]

    in connection with the shooting death of Robert Davis.*fn3 On August 22, 1974, a certification hearing was held on all charges except murder. Appellant, who was sixteen years old at the time of arrest, was certified at the hearing as an adult on all charges.

At a preliminary hearing on the murder and conspiracy charges held on September 4, 1974, these charges were dismissed because of the Commonwealth's failure to establish a prima facie case against appellant as required by Pa.R.Crim.P. 141(d). Despite dismissal of these charges, appellant was held continuously on the other offenses.

On February 4, 1975, a warrant was issued for the arrest of appellant for murder and conspiracy in connection with the same killing. Even though appellant since his arrest on July 28, 1974 had been continuously incarcerated, it was not until February 10, 1975, that appellant was arrested again. On April 16, 1975, 262 days after the first arrest, appellant filed a motion to dismiss all charges, contending that the Commonwealth had failed to comply with Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100. Rule 1100 requires the Commonwealth to bring a case to trial within 180 days of the filing of the criminal complaint against an accused. The calendar judge granted the motion except on the murder and conspiracy charges, reasoning that the arrest of February 10 on these two charges was the relevant date for measuring the Commonwealth's compliance with Rule 1100 regarding these two charges. On August 11, 1975, 379 days after the first charges were filed, trial commenced, but ended in a mistrial. On December 8, 1975, a second trial began, and a jury found appellant guilty of murder of the first degree and conspiracy. Post-verdict motions, raising the Commonwealth's failure to comply with Rule 1100, were denied, appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment, and this appeal followed.

II

Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(a)(2) provides:

[ 476 Pa. Page 373]

"Trial in a court case in which a written complaint is filed against the defendant after June 30, 1974 shall commence no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date on which the complaint is filed."

Rule 1100 was promulgated to protect not only the right of the accused to a speedy trial, but also the interest of society in the prompt disposition of criminal litigation. See Commonwealth v. Hamilton, 449 Pa. 297, 297 A.2d 127 (1972). As stated in the Commentary to the ABA Standards Relating to Speedy Trial:

"Speedy trial may be of concern to the defendant, as he may want to preserve the means of proving his defense, to avoid a long period of pre-trial imprisonment or conditional release, and to avoid a long period of anxiety and public suspicion arising out of the accusation. From the point of view of the public, a speedy trial is necessary to preserve the means of proving the charge, to maximize the deterrent effect of prosecution and conviction, and to avoid, in some cases, an extended period of pretrial freedom by the defendant during which time he may flee, commit other crimes, or intimidate witnesses."

ABA Project on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice, Standards Relating to Speedy Trial ยง 1.1 Commentary (Approved Draft, 1968). See Strunk v. United States, 412 U.S. 434, 93 S.Ct. 2260, 37 L.Ed.2d 56 (1973); Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 33 L.Ed.2d 101 (1972).

Accordingly, we have held that Rule 1100(a)(2) "contemplates the commencement of the running of the mandatory period at the point criminal proceedings are initiated." Commonwealth v. Mitchell, 472 Pa. 553, 559, 372 A.2d 826, 829 (1977). Moreover, our Rules provide that all charges arising out of a criminal transaction shall be treated as a single case:

"When more than one offense is alleged to have been committed by one person arising out of the same incident, the issuing authority shall accept only one complaint, and shall docket the matter as a single case."

[ 476 Pa. Page 374]

Pa.R.Crim.P. 131(b). Thus, Rule 1100(a)(2) and Rule 131(b) make clear that the 180 day speedy trial period set forth by Rule 1100 begins to run on all charges arising out of a criminal transaction upon the initiation of criminal proceedings charging the ...


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