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Commonwealth v. Harden

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

October 27, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
JAQUES MANTEL HARDEN, Appellant

Submitted September 8, 2014

Appeal fro the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Criminal Division, No. CP-02-SA-0001726-2013. Before GALLO, J.

Georgene Siroky, Public Defender, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Amy E. Constantine, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., WECHT, J., and STRASSBURGER, J.[*]

OPINION

Page 108

WECHT, J.

Jaques Mantel Harden appeals his February 12, 2014 judgment of sentence, which was imposed following a summary appeal hearing that resulted in the affirmance of Harden's conviction for driving while his operating privileges were suspended or revoked.[1] Harden's counsel has filed with this Court a petition to withdraw as counsel, together with an " Anders" brief.[2] We grant counsel's petition to withdraw, and we affirm Harden's judgment of sentence.

On May 20, 2011, after being pulled over for a suspected DUI, Harden was cited for a violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547 because he refused to submit to a chemical test. Pursuant to that violation, Harden was to receive a license suspension of one year.

Page 109

Because Harden's license was suspended already due to previous Motor Vehicle Code violations, the suspension relating to the violation of section 1547 did not become effective until July 29, 2013.

On July 15, 2013, Harden was cited for driving while his operating privileges were suspended or revoked, in violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 1543(b)(1). On July 23, 2013, Harden proceeded to a hearing before a magisterial district judge, after which he was found guilty of subsection 1543(b)(1) and of summary disorderly conduct. On the same date, Harden filed a summary appeal. Because Harden was detained for a probation violation, he failed to appear for his summary appeal hearing, and the trial court found him guilty in absentia. On December 19, 2013, Harden filed a petition to vacate his sentence and for a new trial. On December 24, 2013, the trial court granted the petition and scheduled a new summary appeal hearing for February 12, 2014.

The Commonwealth's sole witness at the summary appeal hearing was Devin McGee, the police officer who cited Harden for violating subsection 1543(b)(1). Officer McGee testified that he encountered Harden during a traffic stop. Notes of Testimony (" N.T." ), 2/12/2014, at 4. Officer McGee testified that he observed Harden driving the vehicle, and that when he checked Harden's driving record subsequent to the traffic stop, the status of the driving record was " suspended DUI related." Id. at 4. On cross-examination, Officer McGee testified that he initiated the traffic stop because the vehicle had a broken tail light. Id. at 6. Defense counsel questioned Officer McGee about Harden's action after being asked to produce identification. In response, Officer McGee explained that Harden provided no photo identification, but rather gave a " false identification." Id. at 7. Defense counsel objected to the latter statement, but the trial court neither sustained nor overruled the objection. The trial court asked Officer McGee what sort of identification Harden gave to him, and Officer McGee clarified that Harden provided him only a name and date of birth. Officer McGee then testified that he was able to identify Harden from the photo that he obtained on the scene from the computer in his police cruiser, and that Harden admitted that the name on the photo was his name. Id. at 8. After being prompted by defense counsel, Officer McGee identified Harden in court as the individual that he encountered during the traffic stop and recognized in the photo.

Defense counsel called Harden as a witness and asked him two questions. Id. at 9. Defense counsel asked if Harden remembered the traffic stop, to which Harden responded in the affirmative. Defense counsel then asked Harden if he was operating the vehicle at the time. Harden responded in the affirmative.

The Commonwealth admitted Harden's driving record into evidence without objection. Id. at 6. No party ever addressed whether Harden received actual notice of his license suspension during the hearing, but his driving record indicated that the Department of Transportation mailed the official notice of suspension on June 16, 2011.

Following the summary appeal hearing, Harden was found guilty of 75 Pa.C.S. ยง 1543(b)(1). Harden was sentenced to sixty days' incarceration and a fine of five hundred dollars plus court costs. On March 12, 2014, Harden filed a notice of appeal. On March 18, 2014, the trial court directed Harden to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b), to be ...


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