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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOSEPH P. WALL (03/24/88)

filed: March 24, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOSEPH P. WALL, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of July 7, 1986 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. CC 8505641.

COUNSEL

John E. O'Donnell, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Edward M. Clark, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Com., appellee.

Brosky, Del Sole and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 536]

This appeal is from the judgment of sentence for criminal trespass and defiant trespass. Appellant contends that (1) the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to present the defense of justification; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to charge the jury regarding the defense of justification; (3) the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it should find appellant guilty of criminal trespass; and (4) his sentence

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 537]

    of incarceration is unconscionably harsh under the circumstances. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of sentence.

The facts of the case were summarized by the trial court as follows:

The defendant, Joseph P. Wall of Philadelphia, co-defendant, Joan Andrews of Delaware, and thirteen other men and women from the Pittsburgh area forced their way into the offices of the Women's Health Services in downtown Pittsburgh at approximately 7:30 a.m. on May 10, 1985. The defendants were engaged in what they called a "rescue mission." Their purpose was to hinder or stop the performance of abortions at this facility. (N.T. 11/6/85, p. 365). To this end, Mr. Wall and Ms. Andrews proceeded to Examination Room # 6 entered, locked the door, and barricaded themselves therein by positioning the examination tables against the door. [ Id. at 340, 399]. Ms. Andrews then went through a cabinet containing sterilized instruments and unwrapped several of them, exposing them to the air and rendering them unsterile. [ Id. at 340]. They next placed literature and stickers on various pieces of furniture and equipment in the examination room [ Id. at 340-42, 399-400].

After they distributed this literature, they began to pray aloud [ Id. at 348]. During their prayers, City of Pittsburgh police officers announced their presence and advised them that they were trespassing and directed them to leave [ Id. at 348-49]. Mr. Wall and Ms. Andrews answered that they "could not leave as long as abortions would be taking place . . ." [ Id. at 349]. Mr. Wall then read a prepared statement to police after which the police repeated their demand that the pair come out of the room. [ Id. at 350]. The police officers then cut the lock off the door and forced it open.

The defendants were placed under arrest. They were dragged out of the room and down a hallway as they passively resisted attempts of the police officers to escort them out of the room.

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 538]

A criminal information was filed charging Wall and Andrews with the crimes of Criminal Trespass, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3503(a)(1); Defiant Trespass, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3503(b)(1)(i); Criminal Mischief, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3304(a)(1); and Resisting Arrest or Other Law Enforcement, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5104. They were found guilty by a jury of Criminal Trespass and Defiant Trespass, and acquitted of Criminal Mischief and Resisting Arrest on November 12, 1985. Post-trial motions were timely filed, argued, and denied. Joseph Wall was sentenced on July 7, 1986, to a term of imprisonment of not less than six months nor more than twelve months at the State Correctional Institute at Mercer, and a concurrent period of probation of three years. This appeal followed.

Trial Court Opinion at 1-3.

Appellant first contends that the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to present the defense of justification.*fn1 The defense of ...


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