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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RICHARD SYRE (09/02/83)

filed: September 2, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
RICHARD SYRE, APPELLANT



No. 2248 Philadelphia 1982, APPEAL FROM THE JUDGMENT OF SENTENCE OF JULY 9, 1982 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, CRIMINAL NO. 2676 JULY 1981

COUNSEL

F. Fitzpatrick, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Eric B. Henson, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Cercone, President Judge, and Rowley and Cirillo, JJ. Rowley, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Cirillo

[ 322 Pa. Super. Page 418]

This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, dated July 9, 1982.

In June of 1980 the appellant, Richard Syre, was a lawyer for Teamsters Local 115, located in Philadelphia. At this time the teamsters were engaged in a campaign to organize workers at the Penn Radio Cab Company. The workers at Penn Radio went out on strike, at the instigation of the union, and set up a picket line. A man by the name of Ezekiel Gibbs opposed the union's efforts and continued to work while other drivers struck. Gibbs drove a cab through a picket line on June 27, 1980 and allegedly was assaulted by several union members. These individuals were arrested and subsequently brought to trial.

While these criminal charges were pending, Gibbs met with a union official to discuss this strike-related incident. Gibbs had sustained economic losses as a result of injury to his teeth and requested compensation in the amount of $2000.00. According to the union, the official made it quite clear that settlement was only for the proposed civil suit which Gibbs had threatened to bring against the union. However, according to Gibbs' version, the official told him that the settlement was for both the civil liability and the withdrawal of criminal charges.

In any event, Gibbs met with the appellant on several occasions during August and September of 1980 regarding this matter. In September, 1980, Penn Radio became aware that Gibbs was considering the withdrawal of criminal prosecution. Gibbs later testified at trial that indeed he did not wish to proceed with the criminal prosecution and was even seriously considering taking the settlement money and leaving town. Penn Radio prevailed upon him not to drop the criminal prosecution but, instead, to go to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and become part of an investigation concerning certain union officials. Gibbs did so and on September 22, 1980 he agreed to wear a Nagra tape recorder and to tape his conversations with the appellant and others.

[ 322 Pa. Super. Page 419]

After several conversations had been recorded, the appellant was charged with the offense of tampering with a witness.*fn1 The appellant was tried before the Honorable Stanley L. Kubacki and a jury and was convicted. Post-verdict motions were argued and denied and the appellant was sentenced to 2 years probation. This appeal followed.

The appellant alleges, on appeal, that the lower court erred in refusing to grant his demurrer.*fn2 We address this issue as a sufficiency of the evidence question. The evidence is sufficient if it supports the verdict beyond a reasonable doubt when construed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, with all proper inferences drawn in the Commonwealth's favor. Commonwealth v. Edwards, ...


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