Appeal from the Judgment of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1984, No. 2610) Affirming the Judgment of Sentence at October Session, 1982, No. 672-674 of Philadelphia County, Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Trial Division. 353 Pa. Super. 647, 506 A.2d 1338 (1985).
John W. Packel, Chief, Appeals Div. and Karl Baker, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Gaele McLaughlin Barthold, Deputy Dist. Atty., Ronald Eisenberg, Chief, Appeals Div., and JoAnn Verrier, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ.
The issue presented in this appeal is whether Appellant Grace Simmon was denied her right under the Confrontation Clause to inspect and use complainant's juvenile record for cross-examination purposes.*fn1 Because Appellant's counsel was denied access to the principal Commonwealth witness's juvenile record after claiming the existence of bias and motive based on the witness's probationary status, we reverse Superior Court's order, 353 Pa. Super. 647, 506 A.2d 1338, and remand to the trial court with instructions.
On September 25, 1982, Rochelle Hood, age seventeen, and Appellant became embroiled in a confrontation on Sixth Street in Philadelphia. This encounter was the culmination of an ongoing feud between these two neighbors and their
families involving Ronald Armstead, Appellant's paramour. Hood believed Armstead to be the father of her eight month old daughter and wanted him to live with them. Tensions quickly escalated on the otherwise barren street corner, resulting in Hood receiving a stab wound of the right lower chest.
Following this incident, Hood walked home and related the events that occurred to her mother. The complainant's mother called the police to report the episode and then took Hood to the Guiffre Medical Center. The police, responding to the call, picked up Appellant. She was then taken to the hospital where Hood identified Simmon as her assailant. Simmon was later charged with aggravated assault, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2701, 2702; recklessly endangering another person, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2705; and possession of an instrument of crime, 18 Pa.C.S. § 907.
On April 9, 1984, prior to the commencement of trial, Appellant waived her right to a jury trial. Appellant's counsel at the same time made a motion in limine to have the court produce the complainant's juvenile record so as to allow Appellant's counsel to examine it for potential use on cross-examination to show inter alia bias and motive.*fn2 Appellant's counsel underscored the need for the record by asserting a theory of self defense.
The trial court denied the motion for two reasons. First, it was the judge's understanding that juvenile records, pursuant to the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 6301 et seq., were not available except for use in limited circumstances by specially designated persons or agencies. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 6307. The trial court also denied Appellant's motion in limine believing that a juvenile record ...