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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. FERRON CROMWELL (03/16/84)

filed: March 16, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
FERRON CROMWELL, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA V. MATT S. HILL, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA V. ROGER WINTER, APPELLANT



No. 1405 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Bedford County, Nos. 66, 100, 101 of 1981. No. 1406 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Bedford County, Nos. 201, 202 & 203 of 1981. No. 1407 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Bedford County, Nos. 102, 103, 104, 151 of 1981.

COUNSEL

Alan Ellis, Philadelphia, for Cromwell, appellant (at No. 1405).

Robert C. Fogelnest, Philadelphia, for Hill, appellant (at No. 1406).

George Henry Newman, Philadelphia, for Winter, appellant (at No. 1407).

Daniel Lee Howsare, District Attorney, Bedford, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, President Judge, and Wieand and Montemuro, JJ.

Author: Wieand

[ 329 Pa. Super. Page 332]

Ferron Cromwell, charged with committing multiple burglaries in several counties, was tried and acquitted of four burglary charges in Somerset County. Cromwell, and also Matt Hill and Roger Winter, contend that because of Cromwell's acquittal in Somerset County, the Commonwealth is collaterally estopped from prosecuting them in Bedford County for burglaries allegedly committed there. We disagree and affirm the order denying motions to dismiss prosecutions pending against them in Bedford County.

Jurisdiction of criminal actions in Pennsylvania is only countywide. Commonwealth v. Nichelson, 294 Pa. Super. 438, 445, 440 A.2d 545, 549 (1982). It follows that prosecutions for burglaries allegedly committed in different counties cannot be consolidated for trial. Prosecution of Cromwell for burglaries allegedly committed by him in Bedford County, therefore, is not barred by 18 Pa.C.S. ยง 110(1)(ii) even if it be subsequently determined that all burglaries were part of the same criminal episode. See: Commonwealth v. Simeone, 222 Pa. Super. 376, 294 A.2d 921 (1972).

Appellants' argument that the Commonwealth is collaterally estopped from prosecuting them in Bedford County is based upon the assumed fact that the Commonwealth will be required to rely in whole or in part upon the testimony of accomplices*fn1 whose credibility was successfully challenged during the trial in Somerset County. Inasmuch

[ 329 Pa. Super. Page 333]

    as the testimony of these witnesses was found not credible in Somerset County, it is argued, the credibility issue has been determined finally. Under this concept, the credibility of these witnesses could not be litigated in Bedford County even though the crimes there in issue were separate and distinct from the offenses for which Cromwell was tried in Somerset County and even though the evidence would not necessarily be the same.

The Fifth Amendment prohibition against placing a person twice in jeopardy for the same offense includes principles of collateral estoppel. Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 90 S.Ct. 1189, 25 L.Ed.2d 469 (1970); Commonwealth v. Hude, (Hude I), 492 Pa. 600, 425 A.2d 313 (1980); In the Interest of R.R., 317 Pa. Super. 334, 464 A.2d 348 (1983); Commonwealth v. Brown, 281 Pa. Super. 348, 422 A.2d 203 (1980). Collateral estoppel is issue preclusion. In the Interest of R.R., supra, 317 Pa. Super. at 345, 464 A.2d at 354; Commonwealth v. Lewis, 306 Pa. Super. 81, 83, 452 A.2d 13 (1982), quoting Commonwealth v. Hude, supra 492 Pa. at 617, 425 A.2d at 322. "'Collateral estoppel' is an awkward phrase, but it stands for an extremely important principle in our adversary system of justice. It means simply that when an issue of ultimate fact has once been determined by a valid and final judgment, that issue cannot again be litigated between the same parties in any future lawsuit." Commonwealth v. Brown, 503 Pa. 514, 518, 469 A.2d 1371, 1373 (1983); Commonwealth v. Peluso, 481 Pa. ...


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