No. 2173 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, of Philadelphia County, February Term, 1981, No. 1094-1096.
James J. DeMarco, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Jane C. Greenspan, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Rowley, Del Sole and Lipez, JJ.
[ 338 Pa. Super. Page 299]
This is a direct appeal by Anthony Shands from a judgment of sentence imposing 11 1/2 to 23 months imprisonment following his conviction by a jury on charges of Robbery, Theft, Receiving Stolen Property and Criminal Conspiracy. We have concluded that the trial court erred in restricting appellant's cross-examination of the prosecuting police officers and in failing to require the Commonwealth to make available for inspection the district attorney's files concerning his investigation of the officers. Therefore, we reverse.
The facts as recited by the trial court in its opinion are as follows:
This is a "Granny Squad" case. On December 16, 1980, in the Concourse of the City of Philadelphia the defendant Anthony Shands, nineteen years old, attempted to take money from the pocket of Officer Flanagan. Officer Flanagan was walking and clothed as an aged derelict. He was a decoy with four back-up officers ready to come to his aid as soon as he gave the signal that he had been robbed. These Granny Squads had been operating in high crime areas in the City of Philadelphia for many months prior to December 16, 1980. Officer Flanagan as a decoy would carry with him a roll of stage money with
[ 338 Pa. Super. Page 300]
one or two genuine dollars on top. In this case the defendant was seized by the back-up officers as he held Flanagan's roll of money in his hand.
The back-up officers assisted Officer Flanagan in the arrest of appellant and they all testified against him at his trial, which commenced on August 4, 1981.
Immediately preceding the trial, appellant's counsel and the Assistant District Attorney sought a pre-trial ruling regarding the scope of permissible cross-examination of the members of the "Flanagan Squad". At that time, the officers were under investigation by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office regarding allegations that, during 1980 and 1981, they had made false arrests, exhibited racial bias, used excessive force and testified falsely in criminal prosecutions of certain persons they had arrested. There was no indication that the investigation involved the charges made against appellant by the squad. Nonetheless, appellant's counsel requested that he be allowed to cross-examine the arresting officers regarding the ongoing state and federal investigations into other arrests made by them, including the subsequent disposition of certain cases by the Philadelphia District Attorney.
Appellant's counsel further requested that the District Attorney's file regarding the ongoing investigation be made available for his review. (August 4, 1981, N.T., pp. 13, 17-18, 25). In response to this request, the Assistant District Attorney stated that he was in the Trial Division of the District Attorney's Office, which was separate from the Investigation Division, and that he had nothing in his control that had not been provided to defense counsel. In response to defense counsel's assertion that the files should be submitted to the trial judge, the prosecutor argued that if the court determined that such evidence was irrelevant in the ...