Com. v. Shelton

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore JONES; EAGEN
Citation364 A.2d 694,469 Pa. 8
Decision Date08 October 1976
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant, v. Melvin SHELTON, Appellee.

Page 694

364 A.2d 694
469 Pa. 8
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant,
v.
Melvin SHELTON, Appellee.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Argued June 22, 1976.
Decided Oct. 8, 1976.

Page 695

[469 Pa. 10] Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Deborah Glass, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, Alan J. Davis, Philadelphia, for appellee.

[469 Pa. 11] Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., Upper Dabry, for Pa. Dist. Attorneys' Assn.

Before JONES, C.J., and EAGEN, O'BRIEN, ROBERTS, POMEROY, NIX and MANDERINO, JJ.

OPINION OF THE COURT

EAGEN, Justice.

On December 20, 1973, a special investigating grand jury in Philadelphia filed a presentment recommending Melvin Shelton be indicated on certain criminal charges. The presentment was submitted to a regular indicting grand jury which returned indictments on January 3, 1974. Shelton sought and obtained a discovery order requiring the Commonwealth to make available certain information. Because the discovery order was in apparent conflict with a previous court order impounding certain materials, the discovery order was subsequently modified to require Shelton to apply for clarification of the impounding order before discovery would be allowed.

On July 3, 1974, following a hearing and the submission of briefs, the impounding order was modified to allow Shelton access to various items which had previously been 'impounded.' On July 31, 1974, Shelton filed various pretrial motions and a

Page 696

pretrial conference was held on August 13, 1974. The Commenwealth filed an answer to Shelton's pretrial motions on September 20, 1974 and a hearing was held on October 9, 1974 in order to dispose of the motions. During that hearing, Shelton made an oral application to dismiss the charges with prejudice pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(f). 1 The application alleged[469 Pa. 12] the Commonwealth had failed to comply with section (a)(1) of the Rule 2 which mandates the commencement of trial no later than two hundred and seventy (270) days from the date on which the criminal complaint is filed. On October 21, 1974, Shelton filed a written application to the same effect. On November 14, 1974, the Commonwealth filed an answer to the application and requested an extension of time in which to commence trial pursuant to section (c) of the Rule. 3 On December 3, 1974, the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia entered an order denying Shelton's application but certified that the order, although interlocutory, presented a controlling question of law for which a substantial ground for difference of opinion existed and from which an immediate appeal would materially advance the ultimate determination of the litigation. The Superior Court thereafter exercised its discretion and permitted an appeal from the court's order denying Shelton's application. 4 The Superior Court later reversed the order of the Court of Common Pleas and ordered Shelton discharged. Opinion Judge Price. Judge Van der Voort filed 'a concurring and dissenting opinion' in which President Judge Watkins and Judge Jacobs joined. The [469 Pa. 13] Commonwealth petitioned for an allowance of appeal and we granted the petition.

The Commonwealth argues that the period of time during which the conflict between the discovery and impounding orders was being resolved by the court should not be 'chargeable' to the Ciommonwealth because it was in fact caused by the judiciary. The Commonwealth thus refers to the period of time which it seeks to have removed from computation of the time under Rule 1100 as 'judicial delay.' 5

Initially, we reject the manner in which the Commonwealth has framed the issue. Rule 1100 is not worded in terms of charging either the Commonwealth or an accused with periods of delay. Further, such terminology only serves to confuse the issue and thereby tends to cause confusion in the application of the Rule.

Rule 1100 mandates the commencement of trial within a specifically defined

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period of time. It provides for two exclusions from the computation of the mandatory period. Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(d). 6 Whether or not circumstances exist in any given case which warrant excluding certain periods of time pursuant to section (d) is to be determined when an accused applies for dismissal of the charges because of an alleged violation of the Rule pursuant to section (f). Commonwealth v. O'Shea, 465 Pa. 491, 350 A.2d 872, 875 n. 9 (1976). Further, the Rule provides for extensions of the mandatory period where despite duediligence by the Commonwealth trial [469 Pa. 14] cannot be commenced within the mandatory period provided by the Rule or set forth in an order granting extension. Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(c). Thus, arguments relating to Rule 1100 are properly advanced by employing the terminology of the Rule. We shall therefore consider the Commonwealth's argument in this manner.

Instantly, section (a)(1) 7 of Rule 1100 mandated the commencement of trial within two hundred and seventy days (270) from the filing of the complaint. 8 On October 21, 1974, when Shelton filed his written motion to dismiss the charges, the mandatory period of section (a)(1) in which to commence trial had already been exceeded. 9 Thus, all of the delay beyond the two hundred and seventy (270) day mandatory period

'. . . must be either excluded from the computation (of the period, Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(d)) or justified by an order granting an extension pursuant to the [469 Pa. 15] terms of the rule (Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(c)) if the Commonwealth is to prevail.'

Commonwealth v. O'shea, supra at ---, 350 A.2d at 874.

The Commonwealth may not seek an extension pursuant to section (c) of the Rule nunc pro tunc, that is, the application for an extension Must be filed prior to the expiration of the mandatory period set forth in the Rule or set forth in a previous order granting an extension. Commonwealth v. O'Shea, supra at ---, 350 A.2d at 875 n. 9; Commonwealth v. Woods, 461 Pa. 255, 336 A.2d 273 (1975). Whether or not an application for an extension is timely filed is...

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259 practice notes
  • Com. v. Hill
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 17, 1999
    ...v. Reeves, 378 Pa.Super. 29, 33, 548 A.2d 260, 262 (1988); Commonwealth v. Shelton, 239 Pa.Super. 195, 200, 361 A.2d 873, 876, aff'd, 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694 (1976). Applying this approach, the Shelton court explained that "the effectiveness of Rule 1100 would be seriously hampered, if not ......
  • Com. v. Hollingsworth
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 20, 1985
    ...the Commonwealth's due diligence. See Commonwealth v. Bulling, 331 Pa.Super. 84, 480 A.2d 254 (1984); see also Commonwealth v. Shelton, 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694 (1976). We have also determined that in seeking an extension the Commonwealth need not prove its due diligence throughout the entir......
  • Jones v. State, No. 90-151
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 13, 1991
    ...good cause means filing within the time provided by statute. Com. v. Delauter, 257 Pa.Super. 510, 390 A.2d 1354 (1978); Com. v. Shelton, 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694 (1976). Consent is not silence, but must be an express consent that the case be continued. Arwood, 612 P.2d 763; State v. Chadwick......
  • Commonwealth v. Harth, No. 13 EAP 2020
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 22, 2021
    ...mandatory period but the court[,] because of scheduling difficulties or the like[,] is unavailable.’ " (quoting Commonwealth v. Shelton , 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694, 699 (1976) ); see also Mills , 162 A.3d at 325 ("[W]here a trial-ready prosecutor must wait several months due to a court calend......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
259 cases
  • Com. v. Hill
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 17, 1999
    ...v. Reeves, 378 Pa.Super. 29, 33, 548 A.2d 260, 262 (1988); Commonwealth v. Shelton, 239 Pa.Super. 195, 200, 361 A.2d 873, 876, aff'd, 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694 (1976). Applying this approach, the Shelton court explained that "the effectiveness of Rule 1100 would be seriously hampered, if not ......
  • Com. v. Hollingsworth
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 20, 1985
    ...the Commonwealth's due diligence. See Commonwealth v. Bulling, 331 Pa.Super. 84, 480 A.2d 254 (1984); see also Commonwealth v. Shelton, 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694 (1976). We have also determined that in seeking an extension the Commonwealth need not prove its due diligence throughout the entir......
  • Jones v. State, No. 90-151
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • June 13, 1991
    ...good cause means filing within the time provided by statute. Com. v. Delauter, 257 Pa.Super. 510, 390 A.2d 1354 (1978); Com. v. Shelton, 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694 (1976). Consent is not silence, but must be an express consent that the case be continued. Arwood, 612 P.2d 763; State v. Chadwick......
  • Commonwealth v. Harth, No. 13 EAP 2020
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 22, 2021
    ...mandatory period but the court[,] because of scheduling difficulties or the like[,] is unavailable.’ " (quoting Commonwealth v. Shelton , 469 Pa. 8, 364 A.2d 694, 699 (1976) ); see also Mills , 162 A.3d at 325 ("[W]here a trial-ready prosecutor must wait several months due to a court calend......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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