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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CATHERINE MAURIZIO (12/17/81)

decided: December 17, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
CATHERINE MAURIZIO



No. 80-1-147, Appeal from the Order entered on July 1, 1980, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at Misc. No. 492 April, 1980.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Michael W. Zurat, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ. Larsen, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: O'brien

[ 496 Pa. Page 585]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellee, Catherine Maurizio, was served with a lawful subpoena directing her appearance as a Commonwealth witness

[ 496 Pa. Page 586]

    at the homicide trial of Richard Marchese. Because she failed to appear, appellee was arrested pursuant to a bench warrant issued by the trial court. Following a hearing, the trial court ruled that appellee's failure to appear at the Marchese trial constituted indirect criminal contempt of court. Appellee was sentenced to pay a fine of $300.

The Commonwealth filed a direct appeal to this Court, and now argues that the trial court committed an error of law in ruling that appellee's conduct constituted only indirect criminal contempt. We believe, however, that the Commonwealth's appeal must be quashed.

It has long been well-settled that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the prosecution from appealing a verdict of acquittal. United States v. Ball, 163 U.S. 662, 16 S.Ct. 1192, 41 L.Ed. 300 (1896). Further, the verdict of acquittal need not be expressed to allow application of the aforementioned principle. Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 78 S.Ct. 221, 2 L.Ed.2d 199 (1957).*fn1 Even where the acquittal is the result of an error of law, the judgment of acquittal bars any retrial. Fong Foo v. United States, 369 U.S. 141, 82 S.Ct. 671, 7 L.Ed.2d 629 (1962),*fn2 Commonwealth v. Haines, 410 Pa. 601, 190 A.2d 118 (1963). Over a century ago, this Court stated:

"It must be remembered that criminal contempt of court is a specific criminal offense. It is punished sometimes by indictment, and sometimes in a summary proceeding, as it was in this case. In either mode of trial, the ...


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