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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SHARMON SIMPSON (04/17/89)

filed: April 17, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
SHARMON SIMPSON, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, Nos. 1098,1099,1103,1105,1106, 1111,1112,1113,1117,1118,1123,1124,1125,1130, 1131,1132,1137,1138,1143,1144,1149,1150, 1213,1214,1219,1222,1223,1226,1227,1232, August Term 1982

COUNSEL

Sharmon Simpson, in propria persona.

Donna G. Zucker, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellee.

Tamilia, Hoffman and Cercone, JJ. Hoffman, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Tamilia

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 20]

On October 1, 1987, appellant was sentenced to a total of 25 to 50 years imprisonment and 10 consecutive years of probation for convictions, in three separate trials, of 30 offenses arising out of 12 separate armed robberies committed by appellant between December 2, 1981 and May 2, 1982.

Resentencing on the first series of convictions, the Silo robberies, followed remand by our Court in Commonwealth v. Simpson, 353 Pa. Super. 474, 510 A.2d 760 (1986) (Simpson I). The sentencings for the trials and resulting convictions which followed Simpson I were consolidated with the Simpson I sentencing remand and the following total terms of imprisonment were imposed:

Simpson I, March 15, 1983 convictions (Silo robberies) -- ten to twenty years imprisonment and five years probation;

June 23, 1983 convictions (Brady robberies) -- five to ten years imprisonment and five years probation (concurrent with other probationary terms);

October 12, 1983 convictions (Gino robberies) -- ten to twenty years imprisonment and five years probation.

Each of the three appeals currently before us turns on its own record and facts as presented to the Court.

The record at Simpson I suggested circumstances which are totally inapplicable to the consolidated appeals now before us at Simpson II. The record for Simpson I did not substantiate the sentence of 30 to 60 years on the series of robberies considered therein, the full court denying reargument on June 30, 1986 with the Supreme Court denying allocatur petitions filed by both appellant and the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Simpson, 514 Pa. 624, 522 A.2d 49 and 514 Pa. 635, 522 A.2d 1105 (1987).

Simpson II, encompassing Simpson I, includes appeals of sentences resulting from convictions at three trials for multiple armed robberies and related offenses over a long

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 21]

    period of time, providing in its totality a significantly different frame of reference for sentencing than did Simpson I.

The sentencing judge and Commonwealth here had a stronger basis for looking to a longer total sentence than was the case in Simpson I and the justification and legality of the sentence of 25 to 50 years for the entire series of crimes at the completion of the trials on all of the charges involving these pattern crimes was within the sound discretion of the trial court. Indeed the Simpson portrayed by the court and Commonwealth at sentencing in Simpson I was a far more benign person than portrayed in Simpson II. Simpson I served its purpose in alerting the Commonwealth and the trial judge that the defendant was not to be sentenced unfairly. By so alerting them to this perception, the total sentence of 25 to 50 years was imposed, which is within the range of fair and reasonable sentencing. Reviewing the Commonwealth's letter brief and the trial judge's Opinion of April 28, 1988, reinforced by her second Opinion of November 16, 1988, appellant's contention, that the remand sentence on Simpson I and the sentence on the other convictions were required to be concurrent, is not justified. The remand on Simpson I applied to that record only and cannot be construed to apply to other sentences on other trials and convictions.

In sentencing appellant, while Judge Abraham stated she rejected "out of hand" the "suggestion" of a sentence by the Superior Court, contrary to appellant's allegation that she ignored the mandate of the Superior Court, she did in fact impose a total sentence involving the remanded cases and the other cases well within the discretionary limits suggested by this Court. Appellant is in error when he suggests the Superior Court mandated a 10 to twenty year sentence for all of the robberies involved in the three trials. The only robberies before this Court in Simpson I were the six Silo robberies and related offenses encompassed in the first trial. The objection voiced by this Court was to six consecutive sentences on the robberies when the record at that time did not establish the depth of appellant's criminal

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 22]

    involvement and background. The record in Simpson II does establish that criminal propensity and background and the sentencing on each of the three sets of convictions was well within the discretion of the trial judge. Since appellant relies entirely on the "directions" imposed by Simpson I, which we do not find applicable here, and no other issues have been raised on appeal, we affirm all judgments of sentence.

We are, however, constrained to comment on the unorthodox, unprecedented and objectionable attack by the trial judge against this Court in particular and the appellate system as a whole expressed in her Opinion of November 16, 1988.*fn1 Since it is possible the Opinion will be published, the misrepresentations and blanket denouncements concerning this Court, which has received commendations for its decisions and efficiency from national commentators on state courts, cannot go unanswered.

Upon remand the trial court considered evidence of the defendant's criminal past, of which this Court did not have the benefit when we sent the case back with the suggestion on sentencing. It was after the trial court judge heard new evidence of the defendant's past serious crimes that she took the occasion to demonstrate an unbridled and intemperate view of the appellate process.

In her comments regarding our remand Order, she demonstrates a grievously erroneous impression of the judicial system vis-a-vis the relationship between the trial and appellate courts. It can only be assumed from the trial judge's "loose canon" approach that the judge evinces a pitiable lack of knowledge or a personal asperity with the review powers of our Court. Her remarks are shabby and unworthy of a judge in our system and the sooner the judge disabuses herself of her misconception of the appellate court function, the less she will ...


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