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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ALLEN BORDERS (06/27/89)

decided: June 27, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
ALLEN BORDERS, APPELLANT



Discretionary Appeal from the Judgment of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania at No. 1846, Philadelphia 1985, Affirming the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Information Nos. 440-441, June Term, 1984. 359 Pa. Super. 625, 515 A.2d 616 (1986).

COUNSEL

Howard Kaiser, for appellant.

Gaele McLaughlin Barthold, Deputy Dist. Atty., Ronald Eisenberg, Chief, Appeals Div., JoAnn M. Verrier, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Papadakos, J., files a Dissenting Opinion.

Author: Zappala

[ 522 Pa. Page 162]

OPINION

We granted allocatur in the instant matter to address the issue of whether Appellant should have been permitted to utilize the juvenile criminal records of a prosecution witness for the purpose of establishing possible bias or motive for his testimony. The trial court determined that the use contemplated by Appellant was improper and forbade its use. The Superior Court, in a memorandum opinion, affirmed

[ 522 Pa. Page 163]

    that determination, 359 Pa. Super. 625, 515 A.2d 616 (1986). For the reasons which follow, we reverse.

Facts necessary to decide this matter reveal that Appellant was arrested for aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy in the stabbing of Mark Rideout in Philadelphia on February 15, 1984. It was alleged that Appellant acted in consort with Donald Dean and the two were tried together. Following a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of the charges and sentencing followed.

At trial, Appellant's counsel sought to examine Rideout about his juvenile record for the purpose of establishing possible motive or bias due both to the substantial nature of that record and also to Rideout's pending juvenile charges which were lodged subsequent to his stabbing and identification of Appellant as the perpetrator.

The trial court allowed Appellant's counsel to inspect Rideout's juvenile record but, following an in-camera hearing, denied his request to interrogate the witness on that record on the theory that the two pending charges against Rideout were only arrests and, citing our decision in Commonwealth v. Slaughter, 482 Pa. 538, 394 A.2d 453 (1978), determined that the record could only be used as to actual adjudications and not merely arrests. (Notes of Testimony, Vol. II, December 7, 1984).

On appeal the Superior Court determined that Appellant had failed to present any argument to the trial court asserting how the use of the record could show bias in the ...


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