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CALVIN E. MATTHEWS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (04/21/88)

decided: April 21, 1988.

CALVIN E. MATTHEWS, APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Calvin Matthews, No. SA 724-86.

COUNSEL

Albert C. Odermatt, Jr., with him, Charles E. Foerster, Weisel, Xides & Odermatt, for appellant.

Harold H. Cramer, Assistant Counsel, with him, John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellee.

Judges Craig and Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Barbieri

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 404]

Calvin E. Matthews (Appellant) appeals the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which affirmed the suspension of his operating privileges for a period of one year for refusal to submit to chemical testing pursuant to Section 1547(b) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C. S. § 1547(b). We affirm.

On January 31, 1986, a City of Pittsburgh police officer drove up behind Appellant who was sitting in a stopped car in the middle of the street blocking traffic at 5:20 a.m. Appellant ignored the siren and flashing lights of the officer's police car. The police officer then got out of the car, knocked on Appellant's car window,

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 405]

    and told Appellant to move his car. Appellant at first refused to talk to the officer and then began screaming that he was being harassed. Appellant then put his car into gear and drove away at sixty miles per hour. Appellant's car was overhauled after a two block chase and after a struggle with police he was placed under arrest for driving under the influence.

Appellant was taken to police headquarters and given the required warnings. He performed three field sobriety tests and submitted to two breathalyzer tests, each of which registered zero. The police officer testified that Appellant acted in a bizarre manner, alternately pacing up and down the room and screaming at the police, and then passively cooperating with them. The police officer smelled no alcohol on Appellant's breath but noted that his eyes were glassy and at times he was unsteady on his feet and combative. Once Appellant admitted he was on medication, the police officer decided to take Appellant to the hospital for a blood test. At the hospital, a nurse asked Appellant his name for a consent form the hospital needed in order to draw blood. Appellant refused to give the nurse his name and when the police officer said it was Calvin Matthews, Appellant started screaming that he was an imposter and was being framed. He was then forcibly removed from the hospital.

At the hearing before the trial court, Appellant's treating psychiatrist testified that Appellant was a chronic paranoid schizophrenic who under stress feels he is being harassed and taken advantage of and therefore becomes uncooperative and fearful. The psychiatrist stated that this condition rendered Appellant incapable of either signing the consent form or submitting to blood testing. The trial court disagreed, finding that Appellant's testimony lacked credibility, and that he had not only by his conduct refused to submit to the

[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 406]

    requested blood test, but also refused to cooperate with the ...


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