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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PAUL STRAFF (02/05/82)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


filed: February 5, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PAUL STRAFF, APPELLANT

No. 22 October Term, 1979, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Criminal Division, at No. 2890-78.

COUNSEL

Alan E. Kear, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Ronald T. Williamson, Assistant District Attorney, Norristown, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Price, Watkins and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 295 Pa. Super. Page 206]

The instant appeal is from the trial court's order quashing appellant's timely motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment following his conviction for speeding.*fn1 For the reasons stated herein, we reverse the order and remand the case to the court of common pleas for consideration of the merits of appellant's post-trial motions. Additionally, we vacate the sentence imposed upon completion of appellant's trial on October 25, 1978.

Appellant was cited for speeding on July 5, 1978. Following a summary trial before a district justice on July 21, 1978, appellant was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of $55 and costs of $15. An appeal to the court of common pleas was perfected, see Pa.R.Crim.P. 67, and a non-jury trial was held on October 25, 1978. The trial judge found appellant guilty of violating section 3362(a)(1) of the Vehicle Code and immediately sentenced him to pay the fine of $55 as well as the costs of prosecution. Thereafter, on November 3, 1978, appellant filed motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1123(a).*fn2 The trial

[ 295 Pa. Super. Page 207]

    court acknowledged receipt of said motions on November 21, 1978 and scheduled argument thereon for December 18, 1978. Following argument, the court below quashed appellant's motions on December 21, 1978. This appeal followed.

The trial court reasoned that the judgment of sentence entered immediately upon completion of appellant's trial was the final order from which appellant should have appealed to this court. The trial court thus quashed appellant's post-verdict motions because there was

     no statutory or other authority for the filing of 'a motion in arrest of judgment and for a new trial,' after the entry of a sentence or final order of . . . Court. The Pa.Rules of Criminal Procedure in Chapter 1100 . . . relate to court cases, i.e. misdemeanors, felonies or murder cases, not to cases under the Vehicle Code.

Slip op. at 2.

This was error. It is clear that Pa.R.Crim.P. 1123 applies to cases involving summary offenses. Commonwealth v. Koch, 288 Pa. Superior Ct. 290, 431 A.2d 1052 (1981). Indeed, the official Comment to Rule 1123 was recently revised to clarify the applicability of the Rule in the summary case context. The final sentence of the revised comment now provides: "This rule is intended to require post-verdict motions in the court of common pleas after a finding of guilt at a de novo trial in a summary case." The trial court thus erred in failing to consider the merits of appellant's post-trial motions.*fn3

[ 295 Pa. Super. Page 208]

Accordingly, the judgment of sentence is vacated, the order quashing appellant's post-verdict motions is reversed, and the case is remanded to the court of common pleas for consideration of the merits of those motions.


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