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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GLENN THIRKIELD (11/16/83)

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: November 16, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
GLENN THIRKIELD

Appeal No. 46 W.D. Appeal Docket 1983, from the Order of the Superior Court at No. 773 Pittsburgh 1980, dated March 11, 1983, Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. McDermott, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 502 Pa. Page 543]

ORDER

The appeal is dismissed as having been improvidently granted.

McDERMOTT, Justice, dissenting.

I regret the summary disposition of this case. Appeal was allowed to review the issue of the substantive admissibility of prior statements made by a present testifying witness. The all too frequent occurrence is that of a witness' pretrial statement, often the basis of the prosecution or the hope of the defendant, being lost simply by his saying, "I don't remember making a statement."

When a witness is present before the fact-finder, testifies in court, and is available for cross-examination, no valid purpose is served by barring the witness' prior statements from use as substantive evidence where such statements bear sufficient indicia of reliability. While the prior statements themselves may not have been given under oath, or subject to cross-examination, the fact that such are supplied in the current trial defuses hearsay concerns and provides the fact-finder with ample opportunity to determine truth. Indeed, the weight of recent authority is persuasive in this direction.*fn1


*fn1 See Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(1); Cal.Evid.Code § 1235; Kan.Stat.Ann. § 60-460(a); 3A Wigmore, Evidence § 1018 (Chadbourn Rev.1970); McCormick, Evidence § 251 (1972). See also, the able opinion of now President Judge Spaeth, in Commonwealth v. Loar, 264 Pa. Super. 398, 399 A.2d 1110 (1979).


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