Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of May 6, 2011 In the Philadelphia Municipal Court Criminal Division at No(s): MC-51-MD-0000083-2011 Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of May 6, 2011 In the Philadelphia Municipal Court Criminal Division at No(s): MC-51-MD-0000084-2011 Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of May 6, 2011 In the Philadelphia Municipal Court Criminal Division at No(s): MC-51-MD-0000085-2011 J-A06034-12, J-A06035-12, & J-A06036-12
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wecht, J.
J-A06034-12, J-A06035-12, & J-A06036-12
BEFORE: GANTMAN, SHOGAN, and WECHT, J.J.
Katrina Moody, Barbara Ivery, and Bernadette Archie ["Appellants"], appeal their May 6, 2011 judgments of sentence imposed after the Philadelphia Municipal Court found each of them in direct criminal contempt.*fn1 Because Appellants' due process rights were violated, we vacate the judgments of sentence and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.*fn2
On April 6, 2011, during the preliminary hearing in a double homicide case, Appellant Archie stood up in the gallery and began screaming. This occurred as the court crier attempted to bring the homicide defendant's mother from the gallery to the bench to testify. Appellant Archie's act served to incite others seated in the gallery, including the other two Appellants, Moody and Ivery, who then attacked the homicide defendant's mother in the gallery. When the homicide defendant saw his mother being assaulted, he broke free from the deputy sheriff, began banging on the wall, and attempted to run into the gallery. Contempt Hearing Notes of Testimony ["N.T."], 4/6/11, at 6. The deputy sheriff had to wrestle with the defendant in order to prevent him from reaching the gallery. N.T. at 6. The trial court halted the proceedings and removed Appellants from the courtroom to an adjoining room for three hours.
After order was restored, the trial court held what it believed to be a summary contempt hearing. The court crier was sworn in as a witness, but the municipal court judge was not. N.T. at 4-5. In that proceeding, the municipal court judge and the court crier made a record of the melee, as follows:
THE COURT: All right. For the record, what happened was - let me just put on the record what happened that I observed.
What happened that I observed was we tried to bring the defendant's mother in as a witness to testify as to whether or not she hired an attorney for the defendant. That's all.
When the court officer went out to get the mother, a fight broke out in the gallery involving numerous people in which the court officer got stuck in the middle and his arm was hit during the proceeding. He can tell us more about what happened.
Because of that, we had to shut down the court, call the sheriff. Almost every free sheriff in the building came running in here. We locked down the courtroom. The defendant went nuts and started banging on the wall because he saw his mother being assaulted. The door got locked. And the sheriff had to wrestle with the defendant while all this happened, all because of what happened in the gallery of the courtroom.
All right. Mr. Brandt, do you want to tell me what happened when you were out there?
THE WITNESS: Yes, Your Honor. I went out there to get the mother of the defendant. And when I went out there, the people were screaming. There's a lady in a tan suit jacket. She was sitting on the left side of the court or the right side from the bubble. She was holding a piece of paper up, screaming F you. She was saying things, but I wasn't really paying attention. I just told her to sit down.
Another staff member came out and told people to be quiet. The District Attorney was out there telling people to calm down.
As I approached the defendant's mom, someone on the second row - I cannot identify this person - threw a pocketbook, and it hit the lady in the side of the face.
THE WITNESS: The defendant's mom. THE COURT: Okay.
THE WITNESS: And when it did that, this lady here in the orange sweater - between me and the District Attorney, she was running between us screaming. And we tried to hold her back. But as we were trying to hold her back, she got to the mother. And she reached for her hair and pulled her hair and then with a left hand threw and hit her on the left side of her head.
At which time there was [sic] other people coming towards us. I pushed her with my left hand and she went backwards. I believe another court staff member may have grabbed her from behind and pulled her away.
I pushed the woman who was being attacked to the right of that pillar. At which time this woman here can [sic] around the pillar.
THE COURT: Can you please describe--
THE WITNESS: I'm sorry. The woman in the white sweatshirt. THE COURT: Thank you.
THE WITNESS: She came up from behind from the second row. She reached around to the defendant's mother. And all I remember seeing is her index finger going into the woman's eye and ripping her eye. Now, I don't know if she was trying to pull her or trying to rip her eye, but she was using a ripping motion at her eye. At which time they started to engage in a fight.
I tried to push the woman away.
Punches were being thrown back and forth. I was trying to push her away. And then the detective in the black suit - I think it was Pitts - he may have grabbed that woman from behind and pulled her off. We separated the two parties.
At the same time other things were going on. I don't know who the people were. Somebody was trying to hit somebody with a cane. And some other people were throwing punches. And I just can't identify more than those two people and the lady in the tan jacket, who I thought started a lot of the situation.
THE COURT: The lady in the tan jacket, do you see her here?
THE WITNESS: She is the lady back there, Your Honor, in the third - putting her hand up in the air, You Honor, right now. In fact, we even had ...