No. 2145 October Term, 1976, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Trial Division of Philadelphia County, Imposed on Bill of Indictment Nos. 1561-1562, June Session, 1975.
John W. Packel, Assistant Public Defender, and Benjamin Lerner, Defender, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Michael R. Stiles, Assistant District Attorney, and F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Watkins, former President Judge, and Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
[ 258 Pa. Super. Page 226]
Appellant, William Davis, was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault and possession of an instrument of crime and the court imposed a prison sentence of seven and a half to fifteen years. This appeal followed.
It was established that on May 17, 1975 appellant attacked a man named Mack Robinson from behind, slashing Robinson's throat.
The central argument in appellant's brief is that appellant was denied his right to a fair trial because the trial court "wrongfully cited defense counsel for contempt of court." Our review of the record and the arguments of counsel convinces us that appellant's argument has no merit.
The incident to which appellant refers occurred during the course of defense counsel's cross-examination of Mack Robinson, the victim in the attack. Defense counsel was asking Robinson whether he discussed this case with the prosecutor on the morning of the trial. When Robinson said that he had talked to the prosecutor, defense counsel attempted
[ 258 Pa. Super. Page 227]
to learn what the prosecutor had told Robinson. Robinson said that he couldn't recall what the prosecutor said except that the prosecutor told him to tell the truth. Defense counsel further questioned Robinson on this point, but counsel was having some difficulty getting a satisfactory answer from the witness. At this point, the trial judge interjected with questions of his own in an effort to clarify Robinson's answer.*fn1 Among his questions, the trial judge asked Robinson whether the prosecutor told Robinson to say anything that was not part of Robinson's "case." Defense counsel objected to this question, and the exchange between the court and defense counsel went as follows:
"Mr. Sagel: (Defense Counsel)
Judge, May I interrupt and --
The Court: Never interrupt the court. Sit down.
Mr. Sagel: I respectfully --
Mr. Sagel: I respectfully object, sir.
The Court: I said to you to ...