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MATTER ROBERT CAMPOLONGO (10/09/81)

decided: October 9, 1981.

IN THE MATTER OF ROBERT CAMPOLONGO, ESQUIRE. APPEAL OF ROBERT CAMPOLONGO, ESQUIRE, APPELLANT. APPEAL OF EDWARD G. RENDELL, DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY


No. 148 and 149 January Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of Contempt of Court entered by the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, at No. 2485, M.C. March Term, 1979, during the Trial of Darryl Bronzeill, Bill Nos. 1075-1077, November Sessions, 1978.

COUNSEL

Robert Campolongo, Asst. Dist. Atty., John Rogers Carroll, Philadelphia, for appellant at 148.

Steven H. Goldblatt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellant at 149.

Charles W. Johns, Howland W. Abramson, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ. O'Brien, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Nix, J., concurred in the result.

Author: Kauffman

[ 495 Pa. Page 629]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is a direct appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia summarily holding appellant, Assistant District Attorney Robert Campolongo, in direct criminal contempt of court.*fn1 Because the evidence is insufficient to support a summary contempt conviction, we reverse.*fn2

On March 23, 1979, during the first day of the trial of Philadelphia police officer charged with simple and aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, the court cited both appellant and defense counsel for contempt of court and fined each $250.00. Although he entered an order, the trial judge did not write an opinion explaining the basis for the summary contempt convictions. On March 29, 1979, after the second day of testimony, the court declared a mistrial sua sponte on the grounds of intentional prosecutorial misconduct and also granted the defendant's motion for a mistrial on the same grounds. In a lengthy opinion in

[ 495 Pa. Page 630]

    support of the mistrial, the court described "a deliberate, intentional, repeated pattern on the part of the Assistant District Attorney to prejudice [the accused police officer] by inflaming the passion of the jury with evidence, demonstrations, and details of crimes for which [he] was not on trial."

Neither the record nor the trial court's opinion explaining the mistrial clarifies which acts of appellant led to the contempt citation. The particular incident which apparently provoked both summary convictions occurred after appellant objected to defense counsel's assertion that a Commonwealth witness was trying to "stare [him] down." The court sustained this objection and directed defense counsel not to argue with the witness. ...


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