Com. v. Brocklehurst

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore EAGEN; KAUFFMAN; EAGEN; EAGEN
Citation491 Pa. 151,420 A.2d 385
Decision Date03 November 1980
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee, v. Gary Douglas BROCKLEHURST, Appellant.

Page 385

420 A.2d 385
491 Pa. 151
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee,
v.
Gary Douglas BROCKLEHURST, Appellant.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Argued March 7, 1980.
Decided Sept. 22, 1980.
Reargument Denied Nov. 3, 1980.

Page 386

[491 Pa. 152] Charles F. Gilchrest, Routman, Moore, Goldstone & Valentino, Sharon, for appellant.

Samuel J. Orr, Dist. Atty., David B. Douds, Asst. Dist. Atty., Mercer, for appellee.

Before EAGEN, C. J., and O'BRIEN, ROBERTS, NIX, LARSEN, FLAHERTY and KAUFFMAN, JJ.

OPINION

KAUFFMAN, Justice:

Appellant, Gary Douglas Brocklehurst, was convicted of burglary after a non-jury trial in Mercer County. After post-verdict motions were argued, appellant was discharged pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 ("Rule 1100"). On appeal, the Superior Court reversed and remanded for sentencing. We granted allocatur and now affirm. 1

On June 22, 1977, the police filed a criminal complaint charging Gary Paul Brocklehurst with burglary, theft by unlawful taking, theft by receiving stolen property, and criminal conspiracy. 2 On July 30, 1977, appellant was arrested and the police discovered that the June 22 complaint had named the wrong Gary Brocklehurst. Accordingly, the complaint was corrected immediately in handwriting to state the name, birthdate and social security number of appellant, Gary Douglas Brocklehurst. At his preliminary hearing on August 9, 1977, appellant objected to amending the complaint[491 Pa. 153] on two grounds: (1) that the first complaint was fatally defective because it identified the wrong person as defendant, and (2) the statute of limitations had run on all charges but burglary. 3 The Commonwealth then withdrew the complaint and immediately

Page 387

filed a new one charging Gary Douglas Brocklehurst with burglary only. Appellant was re-arrested that same day and a preliminary hearing was held. Trial began on December 27, 1977, within one hundred eighty days of the filing of the second complaint. 4 Although it had refused before trial to dismiss on Rule 1100 grounds, the court, after hearing post-verdict motions, discharged appellant because trial had commenced after the one hundred eighty day run date of the June 22 complaint. The Superior Court properly reversed.

This Court consistently has held that the Rules of Criminal Procedure must be interpreted as written. 5 We also have held that Rule 1100 serves two equally important [491 Pa. 154] functions: (1) the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) the protection of society. Commonwealth v. Hamilton, 449 Pa. 297, 304-05, 297 A.2d 127, (1972). 6 With these concerns in mind, we turn to the instant case.

Rule 1100 requires that "(t)rial in a court case in which a complaint is filed against the defendant ... shall commence no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date on which the complaint is filed." The only complaint filed against the appellant here, Gary Douglas Brocklehurst, was filed on August 9, 1977. Indeed, appellant so argued before trial when he raised the statute of limitations defense and objected to the Commonwealth's efforts to amend the first complaint naming the wrong party. Now, however, appellant argues that the first complaint, although not sufficient to toll the statute of limitations, was sufficient to commence the running of Rule 1100. This analysis comports with neither logic nor public policy and flies in the face of the plain language of Rule 1100. Trial below commenced within one hundred eighty days of the only complaint filed against this appellant. Rule 1100 thus was complied with to the letter.

Significantly, appellant does not allege that the Commonwealth filed successive complaints for the purpose of circumventing Rule 1100, nor does the record support such an [491 Pa. 155] inference. Quite to the contrary, the first complaint was withdrawn only after appellant charged that it was fatally defective because it named the wrong person as defendant and objected to the Commonwealth's efforts to amend. Compare

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Commonwealth v. Whitaker, 467 Pa. 436, 359 A.2d 174 (1976). (The prosecution may not circumvent Rule 1100 by use of a nolle prosequi.) Accordingly, we hold that the running of Rule 1100 commenced with filing of the second complaint on August 9, 1977. Accord Commonwealth v. Cartagena, 482 Pa. 6, 393 A.2d 350 (1978) (plurality). Since trial commenced within one hundred eighty days of that date, the Superior Court correctly reversed and remanded for sentencing.

Order affirmed.

EAGEN, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion in which ROBERTS and NIX, JJ., join.

EAGEN, Chief Justice, dissenting.

Aside from my inability to understand how the majority can say only one complaint was filed against Gary Douglas Brocklehurst when the trial court found as fact that the complaint filed against Gary Paul Brocklehurst was at all times applied to Gary Douglas Brocklehurst and when he was arrested pursuant to the complaint against Gary Paul Brocklehurst before the second complaint ever existed, I am amazed at the majority's apparent ability to first rule this case factually involves only one complaint and then to rely on Commonwealth v. Cartagena, 482 Pa. 6, 393 A.2d 350 (1978) (plurality opinion), which must be viewed as a two-complaint case. Either this is a one-complaint case, in which event any attempt to rely on Commonwealth v. Cartagena, supra, is inappropriate; or, it is a two-complaint case, in which event the majority fails to recognize that Commonwealth v. Cartagena, supra, is not precedent and was impliedly disapproved by a majority of this Court in Commonwealth v. Johnson, 487 Pa. 197, 409 A.2d 308 (1979). Moreover, assuming this is a one-complaint case, the majority's approach ignores the fact that Brocklehurst was arrested[491 Pa. 156] prior to the filing of the August 9 complaint and, thereby, ignores a substantial issue which we previously recognized but reserved determination of, namely whether the period between arrest and the filing of a complaint should be included in computing the mandatory period in which to commence trial pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100, where the arrest precedes the complaint. See Commonwealth v. Mitchell, 472 Pa. 553, 559 n.2, 372 A.2d 826, n.2 (1977).

I can accept in principle the position that a complaint involving a certain criminal transaction can be so defective that the period of time between its filing and dismissal should not be included in computing the mandatory period in which to commence trial under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100. But that position should be reserved to circumstances where the complaint is so defective that it is totally void and is not applied to the accused who later advances a speedy trial claim. Otherwise, absurd results will occur as in this case. Because the majority fails to recognize that the first complaint was applied to Gary Douglas Brocklehurst and fails to give weight to that fact, it concludes a person arrested on July 30 pursuant to a complaint filed on June 22 is not entitled to have the mandatory period in which to commence trial computed from either of those dates, but must have it computed from August 9, when an amended complaint is filed. This I would suggest is absurd.

Moreover, even if the application of a defective complaint to an accused is to be ignored, is it fair to Brocklehurst to ignore the fact that he was, at a minimum, arrested on July 30 without a complaint having been filed? Certainly the "disruption of employment, curtailment of associations, subjection to public obliquy, and the creation of anxiety," Commonwealth v. Mitchell, supra at 561, 372 A.2d at 830, for Brocklehurst, which any speedy trial rule should limit,...

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43 practice notes
  • Com. v. Trill
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • July 8, 1988
    ...the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) [374 Pa.Super. 557] the protection of society." Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst, 491 Pa. 151, 153-154, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980); Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801 (1985). Bearing this in mind, our supreme court has offe......
  • Com. v. Hollingsworth
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 20, 1985
    ...functions: (1) the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) the protection of society," Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst, 491 Pa. 151, 153-54, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980); Commonwealth v. Hamilton, 449 Pa. 297, 297 A.2d 127 (1972). In determining whether an accused's right to a [34......
  • Com. v. Hamm
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 17, 1984
    ...functions: (1) the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) the protection of society, Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst, 491 Pa. 151, 153-154, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980); Commonwealth v. Hamilton, 449 Pa. 297, 297 A.2d 127 (1972). In determining whether an accused's right to a spe......
  • Commonwealth v. Harth, No. 13 EAP 2020
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 22, 2021
    ...as well as society are "equally important[.]" Crowley , 466 A.2d at 1012 ; Genovese , 425 A.2d at 369-70 ; Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst , 491 Pa. 151, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980). Thus, "[i]n determining whether an accused's right to a speedy trial has been violated, consideration must be give......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
43 cases
  • Com. v. Trill
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • July 8, 1988
    ...the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) [374 Pa.Super. 557] the protection of society." Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst, 491 Pa. 151, 153-154, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980); Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801 (1985). Bearing this in mind, our supreme court has offe......
  • Com. v. Hollingsworth
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 20, 1985
    ...functions: (1) the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) the protection of society," Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst, 491 Pa. 151, 153-54, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980); Commonwealth v. Hamilton, 449 Pa. 297, 297 A.2d 127 (1972). In determining whether an accused's right to a [34......
  • Com. v. Hamm
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 17, 1984
    ...functions: (1) the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) the protection of society, Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst, 491 Pa. 151, 153-154, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980); Commonwealth v. Hamilton, 449 Pa. 297, 297 A.2d 127 (1972). In determining whether an accused's right to a spe......
  • Commonwealth v. Harth, No. 13 EAP 2020
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 22, 2021
    ...as well as society are "equally important[.]" Crowley , 466 A.2d at 1012 ; Genovese , 425 A.2d at 369-70 ; Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst , 491 Pa. 151, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980). Thus, "[i]n determining whether an accused's right to a speedy trial has been violated, consideration must be give......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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