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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JON OTIS VANDER WEELE (08/12/86)

filed: August 12, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
JON OTIS VANDER WEELE



Appeal from the Order October 4, 1985 in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Criminal No. 1561 of 1984.

COUNSEL

Thomas P. Agresti, Assistant District Attorney, Erie, for appellant Com.

Raymond Pagliari, Erie, for appellee.

Del Sole, Montemuro and Popovich, JJ. Popovich, J. concurs in the result.

Author: Del Sole

[ 356 Pa. Super. Page 153]

Jon Otis Vander Weele was found guilty after a jury trial of Corruption of Minors*fn1 and Indecent Assault*fn2 with respect

[ 356 Pa. Super. Page 154]

    to his conduct toward his minor step-daughter during the period of December 2, 1983 through February 14, 1984.

Following the filing of post-trial motions, the court en banc entered an Order granting Appellee's Motion for New Trial. The Court determined the trial court erred, 1) in permitting the Commonwealth to cross-examine character witnesses with regard to guilty pleas entered by Appellee to prior charges of Disorderly Conduct and Criminal Mischief; 2) in its instruction to the jury relating to character evidence; and 3) in determining that records of Children's Services of Erie County and the Family Crisis Organization enjoy an absolute privilege under 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5944.

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth pursuant to Pa.R.App.P. 311(a)(5) from the Order granting Appellee's Motion for New Trial. In support of its' position, the Commonwealth argues, 1) cross-examination as to witnesses knowledge of Appellee's prior convictions was proper in light of the specific character trait in issue, that being "moral character" or "moral uprightness"; 2) the trial court properly instructed the jury as to the effect and weight it was to give certain character testimony; and 3) Appellee is not entitled to the results of an in camera inspection by the trial court of certain alleged statements made by the victim to either Children's Services or the Family Crisis Organization,

[ 356 Pa. Super. Page 155]

    especially since Appellee never requested ...


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