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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOSEPH RAGOLI (01/12/87)

submitted: January 12, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOSEPH RAGOLI, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County at No. SA 777 of 1984.

COUNSEL

John Elash, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Com.

Brosky, Popovich and Montgomery, JJ. Montgomery, J., concurs in the result. Brosky, J., files a dissenting statement.

Author: Popovich

[ 362 Pa. Super. Page 393]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County adjudging the appellant, Joseph Ragoli, guilty of defiant trespass. We reverse.

The facts, viewed in a light most favorable to the verdictwinner, reveal that, at approximately 8:43 p.m. on the 20th of March, 1984, University of Pittsburgh Security Officer Albert M. Fink received a call from a fellow employee, Officer Harris, that an unauthorized person had been seen entering Benalum Hall, a University building located in the Oakland section of the City.

When Officer Fink arrived on the scene, Officer Harris was in the lobby speaking to the appellant. Mr. Ragoli was asked whether he had any identification. He responded in the negative. When he was questioned as to his address, he told the officers he had none; "[h]e live[d] on the street." A check in the phone book disclosed that the appellant was not listed.

After the officers told the appellant that he would have to leave the building because it was closed to the public, he refused to do so, became belligerent and stated he did not have to exit the premises since he was allowed in the building. However, his efforts to establish the legitimacy of his presence by means of a phone call to a "professor" proved unsuccessful when no one answered his call. Without the appellant's ability to prove that he was licensed to be on the premises, either as a student, faculty member, staff member or by someone empowered to authorize entry, he was arrested and later charged by complaint with defiant trespass. See Pa.R.Crim.P. 65.

The appellant's sentence before the district magistrate (fine and costs totaling $140.00) was appealed, as permitted by Pa.R.Crim.P. 63(b)(3), to the Court of Common Pleas "for a trial de novo." The facts, as just recounted, were presented at a bench trial conducted on November 7, 1985. The court's verdict, however, was not entered until the following day, and then it came in the form of a typed

[ 362 Pa. Super. Page 394]

    order in which the appellant was "adjudged Guilty of the offense of CC 3503(b)(1)(i) as charged . . . ."*fn1 In the same order, the court wrote that the appellant was "sentenced to pay the Fine and Costs imposed by the Issuing Authority." The order also made reference to, inter alia, the suspension of the sentence imposed pending the filing and disposition of post-verdict motions.*fn2 Counsel for the appellant, in addition

[ 362 Pa. Super. Page 396]

    to the appellant himself, filed post-verdict motions which were denied by order dated February 25, 1986. A motion for reconsideration of the February 25th order was filed, but the record does not disclose whether it was ever disposed of by the trial court.

The next document of record is the appellant's notice of appeal. It was being taken from the order of the trial court dated February 25, 1986 "reimposing" the November 8, 1985 "Judgment of Sentence", which was suspended during the ruling on post-verdict motions. The appeal was remanded upon the Superior Court's grant of the appellant's counsel's petition to withdraw. Jurisdiction was retained. New counsel was appointed and the appeal raised the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court's alleged error in excluding deposition evidence.

[ 362 Pa. Super. Page 397]

Before we can address the merits of the appellant's claims, we must, as is our right and obligation, determine whether the case is properly before us for review. See Commonwealth v. Lewis, 288 Pa. Super. 198, 431 A.2d 357 (1981). This is so despite the absence of any objection from either party to the litigation. See Commonwealth v. Morgenthaler, 320 Pa. Super. 120, 466 A.2d 1091 (1983); Commonwealth Page 397} v. Williams, 290 Pa. Super. 158, 434 A.2d 179 (1981).

This case is mired in a procedural quagmire that necessitates a re-capitulation of this Court's position ...


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