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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROGER WORTH TAGGART (03/31/81)

submitted: March 31, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROGER WORTH TAGGART, APPELLANT



No 1893 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Lancaster County, at No. 1751 of 1973.

COUNSEL

William R. Wheatly, Lancaster, for appellant.

Michael H. Ranck, District Attorney, Lancaster, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Cercone, President Judge and Hester and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Cercone

[ 291 Pa. Super. Page 134]

Appellant, Roger Worth Taggart, appeals from the lower court's denial of appellant's request for a new trial on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. In his brief appellant argues that trial counsel was ineffective for various reasons, including that counsel failed to discuss and raise certain pre-trial motions which appellant felt were important. The lower court did not address itself to the merits of appellant's pre-trial motions because the court found that appellant had waived his right to raise these issues because they were not timely filed. We find the court to be in error on this point.

Appellant was first tried and convicted by a jury on January 24, 1974, of burglary and theft. Appellant received a sentence of four to eight years. No pre-trial motions were filed before this trial, however, after his conviction appellant filed a Post Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA)*fn1 petition which resulted in appellant's receiving a new trial. Appellant was subsequently retried before a jury on November 20, 1975 and was convicted of burglary. Immediately following the verdict, appellant was called before the court for sentencing. In the colloquy advising appellant of his right to appeal, the court warned appellant that by standing for sentence he was waiving the right to file motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial. Appellant told the court that he was aware of that fact. The court sentenced appellant to serve three to six years in prison. Appellant then advised the court that he wanted to take an appeal.

At trial, in fact, at both trials, appellant had been represented by the Public Defender's Office, and so new counsel

[ 291 Pa. Super. Page 135]

    was appointed to argue the issue of ineffectiveness in this appeal. Appellant through new counsel requested the lower court for an evidentiary hearing on this issue, which the lower court denied, and on appeal this Court remanded for an evidentiary hearing. Commonwealth v. Taggart, 258 Pa. Super. 210, 392 A.2d 758 (1978). At this hearing appellant contended that counsel at the second trial was ineffective in that (1) counsel failed to interview appellant sufficiently prior to trial in order to be adequately informed as to the total facts and circumstances of appellant's case, (2) counsel failed to discuss and raise certain pre-trial motions which appellant felt were important, (3) counsel failed to present a defense or to make any attempt to discuss with appellant the witnesses whom appellant wanted to call for trial, nor did counsel make any attempt to locate and interview said witnesses or to seek compulsory process to obtain these witnesses for trial.

The lower court in its opinion following the evidentiary hearing did not address the above issues; instead, the court ruled that trial counsel at the second trial acted properly in not filing pretrial motions prior to appellant's new trial because in the court's view appellant had no right to file pre-trial motions at that stage.*fn2 The court reasoned that although appellant had been granted a new trial, the pre-trial stage terminated upon the commencement of the first trial. This ruling is in error.

In Commonwealth v. Throckmorton, 241 Pa. Super. 62, 359 A.2d 444 (1976), this Court discussed at length the implication of Pa.R.Crim.P. 323, the rule which provides that a criminal defendant may make application for suppression of any evidence alleged to have been obtained in violation of his constitutional rights. The Rule at that time provided that such a suppression ...


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