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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BRIAN CURTIS FIORETTI (03/03/88)

filed: March 3, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
BRIAN CURTIS FIORETTI, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. RAYMOND GERARD JOLIN, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. KAREN K. POUST, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. JEFF ALAN BARTON, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. GREGG SCOTT LULIS, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. TIMOTHY PAUL COLLEY, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. DONALD E. GREINER, JR., APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. CHARLES EUGENE YOUNG, APPELLEE. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. DELOS E. WILLIAMS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Criminal Nos. 85-11-083, 85-11-113, 85-11-118, 85-11-120, 85-11-035, 85-11-281, 85-11-236, 85-11-121, 85-11-055.

COUNSEL

Kenneth A. Osokow, Assistant District Attorney, Williamsport, for Com., appellant.

Stephen C. Sholder, Williamsport, for Fioretti, appellee (at 27HBG86).

Raymond Gerard Jolin, pro se.

William J. Miele, Williamsport, for Poust, appellee (at 92HGB86).

Timothy Paul Colley, pro se.

Donald E. Greiner, Jr., pro se.

Charles Eugene Young, pro se.

Robert M. Cravitz, Selinsgrove, for Lulis, appellee (at 108HBG86).

James T. Rague III, Mercer, for Barton, appellee (at 109HBG86).

John A. Felix, Williamsport, for Williams, appellee (at 164HBG86).

Wieand, Montemuro and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Montemuro

[ 371 Pa. Super. Page 537]

In these consolidated appeals, the Commonwealth challenges various orders of the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas granting appellees' motions to suppress all evidence obtained after their vehicles were stopped at various "sobriety checkpoint" roadblocks. The court of common pleas relied on this Court's opinion in Commonwealth v. Tarbert, 348 Pa. Super. 306, 502 A.2d 221 (1985),*fn1 and concluded that the sobriety checkpoints were per se unconstitutional. The court, therefore, suppressed all evidence obtained as a result of the stops made at the checkpoints.

[ 371 Pa. Super. Page 538]

The roadblocks in question were conducted by the Williamsport Police Department on August 16, 1985,*fn2 September 8, 1985,*fn3 and September 14, 1985.*fn4

Prior to reviewing the suppression orders, we must determine whether they are appealable. In Commonwealth v. Dugger, 506 Pa. 537, 486 A.2d 382 (1985), our Supreme Court held that the Commonwealth may appeal a suppression order as long as the Commonwealth certifies in good faith that the suppression order substantially handicaps or terminates the prosecution. Id., 506 Pa. at 545, 486 A.2d at 386. A prosecution is substantially handicapped whenever the "Commonwealth is denied the use of all their evidence," id. The Commonwealth's certification is "not contestable," and "[i]t, in and of itself, precipitates and authorizes the appeal." Id. See also Commonwealth v. Hunsberger, 358 Pa. Super. 207, 516 A.2d 1257 (1986) (" Dugger rule" applied). In the case before us, the Commonwealth has satisfied the certification requirement. We therefore find that the Commonwealth has an absolute right of appeal to this Court to challenge the validity of the nine suppression orders. We now turn to the merits of the Commonwealth's claims.

Given the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's recent decision in Commonwealth v. Tarbert, 517 Pa. , 535 A.2d 1035 (1987), and in its companion case, Commonwealth v. Dannaker, 517 Pa. , 535 A.2d 1035 (1987),*fn5 and the fact that

[ 371 Pa. Super. Page 539]

    there are three different roadblocks involved in the consolidated cases now on appeal, we must answer the following questions: (1) Was the August 16, 1985 roadblock, wherein appellee Jeff A. Barton was stopped and subsequently charged with driving under the influence, unlawful for want of statutory authorization? (2) Was the September 8, 1985 sobriety checkpoint roadblock both authorized by the legislature and conducted in a constitutional manner? ...


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