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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MICHAEL TWIGGS (07/06/79)

decided: July 6, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
MICHAEL TWIGGS, APPELLANT



No. 308 January Term, 1977, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence, Imposed by the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, Criminal Division, 1718 October Term, 1975.

COUNSEL

Rudolph S. Pallastrone, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Clifford E. Haines, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Eagen, C. J., filed a concurring opinion in which O'Brien and Flaherty, JJ., join. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Roberts

[ 485 Pa. Page 481]

OPINION

A jury convicted appellant of murder of the first degree as a result of the September 30, 1975 shooting of Christopher

[ 485 Pa. Page 482]

Ross. On April 1, 1976, appellant filed boilerplate motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial. The court of common pleas denied post-verdict motions and, on February 7, 1977, sentenced appellant to life imprisonment.

On direct appeal, appellant contends that he is entitled to relief on two grounds: (1) the trial court improperly restricted defense counsel's cross-examination of a police detective and did not permit counsel to elicit the circumstances in which police took statements from a defense witness; and (2) the prosecuting attorney, in his summation, included remarks which were so prejudicial as to entitle appellant to a new trial. Our Criminal Procedural Rule 1123(a) and this Court's mandate in Commonwealth v. Blair, 460 Pa. 31, 331 A.2d 213 (1975) as well as subsequent cases require that judgment of sentence be affirmed.

Rule 1123(a) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, adopted June 8, 1973, provides:

"Within ten (10) days after a finding of guilt, the defendant shall have the right to file written motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment. Only those grounds may be considered which were raised in pre-trial proceedings or at trial, unless the trial judge, upon cause shown, allows otherwise. Argument shall be scheduled and heard promptly after such motions are filed, and only those issues raised and the grounds relied upon in the motions may be argued."

In Commonwealth v. Blair, 460 Pa. at 32 n.1, 331 A.2d at 214 n.1 this Court on January 29, 1975, unanimously stated:

"The practice in some judicial districts of ignoring the requirements of Rule 1123(a) is condemned. Henceforth, issues not presented in compliance with the rule will not be considered by our trial and appellate courts."

[ 485 Pa. Page 483]

In Commonwealth v. Terry, 462 Pa. 595, 602 n.3, 342 A.2d 92, 96 n.3 (1975), this Court "stress[ed] that written post-verdict motions filed subsequent to our decision in Commonwealth v. Blair, 460 Pa. 31, 331 A.2d 213 (1975), will be conclusive on the issues to be considered by the Court en banc and reviewable by appellate tribunals." And in Commonwealth Page 483} v. Grace, 473 Pa. 542, 546, 375 A.2d 721, 723 (1977), this Court "again remind[ed] counsel that written post-verdict motions ...


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