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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ANTHONY BASS (11/03/78)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: November 3, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ANTHONY BASS, APPELLANT

No. 454 October Term, 1977, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Trial Division, Criminal Section, at Nos. 1644-1651 and 1811-1814, May Sessions, 1975.

COUNSEL

John W. Packel, Assistant Public Defender, and Benjamin Lerner, Defender, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Steven H. Goldblatt, 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. Van der Voort, J., dissents. Watkins, former President Judge, and Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Price

[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 63]

Following a jury trial commenced on March 2, 1976, appellant was convicted of two counts of burglary,*fn1 four counts of robbery,*fn2 three counts of rape,*fn3 involuntary deviate sexual intercourse,*fn4 possession of an instrument of crime generally,*fn5 and criminal conspiracy.*fn6 Appellant had been tried on two sets of indictments arising out of two separate incidents occurring on April 20, 1975. Sentence was deferred pending pre-sentence reports and psychiatric examination. Post-trial motions for new trial, in arrest of judgment, and for dismissal under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 were denied. Sentence was imposed on November 9, 1976.

[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 64]

On appeal, appellant contends that it was error for the lower court to deny his: 1). application to dismiss under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100; 2). petition to dismiss indictments; and 3). challenges for cause with respect to two jurors who stated that they would have difficulty being fair and impartial.

We agree with appellant's contention that he was not timely tried under Rule 1100, and therefore order judgment of sentence vacated, and appellant discharged.*fn7

The facts important to our consideration of the Rule 1100 issue are as follows: In the early morning hours of April 19, 1975, three armed men intruded into the apartment of complainant, and raped and robbed her and two female friends who were with her at the time. The three men then proceeded to rob complainant's neighbor who resided across the hall. Appellant was arrested on April 21, 1975, and complaints were filed against him at that time. The May, 1975 Grand Jury returned two sets of indictments on appellant (Nos. 1644-51 and 1811-14) charging him with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, burglary, robbery, conspiracy, and possessing instruments of crime. The two sets of indictments took different courses through the judicial system. By December 2, 1975, after periods of delay excluded under Rule 1100(d) or waived by appellant, and extensions granted to the prosecution under Rule 1100(c), the run date for bills Nos. 1644-51 was December 15, 1975, and the run date for bills Nos. 1811-14 was January 29, 1976. The trial date for Nos. 1644-51 was set for December 12, 1975. However, on December 8, 1975, unbeknownst to the prosecution, appellant was surrendered by Philadelphia Police Prison Authorities to the State of New Jersey where he was wanted on a parole violation. The prosecution first learned of appellant's unavailability on December 12, 1975. The prosecution subsequently filed a petition to extend the run date of Nos. 1644-51. On December 15, 1975, the

[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 65]

    petition was granted, and the run time for Nos. 1644-51 was extended to January 29, 1976.

The Commonwealth, on December 30, 1975, requested temporary custody of defendant from the New Jersey authorities under the Interstate Compact Concerning Detainers.*fn8 However, in making its request, the Commonwealth did not ask for appellant's return until February 10, 1976, even though it was readily apparent that the run date for all bills would have been January 29, unless there was time excludable under Rule 1100(d) or an extension granted under Rule 1100(c).

The case was listed for trial on January 20, 1976, but was relisted by administrative memo with a new trial date being set for February 11, 1976. Appellant was returned to Pennsylvania on February 10, 1976, the date requested by the Commonwealth, and on the next day when the case was to come to trial, the Commonwealth sought and was granted a continuance to February 25, 1976. On that same day, the Commonwealth filed a petition to extend under Rule 1100(c) and appellant filed a petition to dismiss*fn9 under Rule 1100(f). After a hearing on the motions in front of the Honorable Lisa A. Richette, appellant's petition was denied, and the Commonwealth's petition was granted. The run date was set for April 28, 1976. Trial commenced on March 2, 1976.

Under Rule 1100(c), the Commonwealth can petition the lower court for an extension of time, "[a]t anytime prior to the expiration of the period for commencement of trial . . . . Such application shall be granted only if trial cannot be commenced within the prescribed period despite due diligence by the Commonwealth." (emphasis added). No application for extension will be granted nunc pro tunc. Commonwealth v. Wharton, 246 Pa. Super. 498, 378 A.2d 434 (1977).

[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 66]

The petition to extend made by the Commonwealth on February 11th was filed after the then-existing run date of January 29, 1976. Thus, this petition must be viewed as untimely, and the extension granted by Judge Richette ineffective unless there was a sufficient period of time prior to February 11th which could be excluded from the determination of the period for commencement of trial under Rule 1100(d). See Commonwealth v. Burton, 246 Pa. Super. 498, 371 A.2d 946 (1977).

The Commonwealth contends that there were at least thirty days between December 12, 1975 and February 11, 1976 which should be excluded because of appellant's unavailability while incarcerated in New Jersey. We do not agree.

Mere incarceration in another jurisdiction does not make appellant unavailable. Appellant will be considered unavailable only for the period of time during which his presence could not be secured despite due diligence by the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Richbough, 246 Pa. Super. 300, 369 A.2d 1331 (1977), Commonwealth v. Kovacs, 250 Pa. Super. 66, 378 A.2d 455 (1977). "There is no question, therefore, that the duty imposed on the Commonwealth by Rule 1100 to bring a defendant to trial within the prescribed period is not affected by the fact of his incarceration elsewhere . . ." Commonwealth v. McCafferty, 242 Pa. Super. 218, 224, 363 A.2d 1239, 1241 (1976).

The Commonwealth has failed to make a showing of due diligence. The February 11th petition for extension merely set forth a bare assertion that "[d]espite due diligence, the Commonwealth will not be able to try this case within the Rule 1100 run date."*fn10 The Commonwealth failed to add

[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 67]

    anything to that bare assertion at the hearing on the petition conducted on February 25th, and was unable to supply any reason why it did not seek to obtain appellant's return in time for the then-existing run date of January 29.*fn11

Had the appellant or the New Jersey authorities contested the transfer, the time so consumed would have been excluded from the period of Rule 1100. Commonwealth v. McCafferty, supra. In the instant case, however, neither appellant nor the New Jersey authorities contested transfer.

We find, therefore, that the Commonwealth's showing of due diligence was woefully insufficient. Without a showing of due diligence, we are unable to find appellant "unavailable" under Rule 1100(d), for mere incarceration in another jurisdiction, in itself, does not prove unavailability.

The judgment of sentence is reversed, and appellant is discharged.


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