Com. v. Simms

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore NIX; FLAHERTY
Citation500 A.2d 801,509 Pa. 11
Decision Date13 November 1985
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee, v. Nathan SIMMS, Appellant. 16 W.D. 1985

Page 801

500 A.2d 801
509 Pa. 11
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee,
v.
Nathan SIMMS, Appellant.
16 W.D. 1985
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Submitted Sept. 19, 1985.
Decided Nov. 13, 1985.

Page 802

[509 Pa. 13] Kim William Riester, Scott & Vogrin, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Before NIX, C.J., and LARSEN, FLAHERTY, McDERMOTT, HUTCHINSON, ZAPPALA and PAPADAKOS, JJ.

OPINION OF THE COURT

FLAHERTY, Justice.

This is an appeal from an order of the Superior Court which affirmed a judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. Commonwealth v. Simms, 330 Pa.Super. 594, 478 A.2d 121 (1984). The appellant, Nathan Simms, was convicted of murder of the first degree, and a sentence of life imprisonment was imposed. The conviction arose from an incident in which appellant stabbed and burned a woman with whom he had been living. On the day of the incident, September 26, 1980, a criminal complaint was filed charging appellant with having committed this aggravated assault. On November 7, 1980, however, the victim of the assault died, and, hence, on November 26, 1980, a complaint was filed charging appellant with criminal homicide.

The sole issue to be addressed 1 in the instant appeal is whether appellant was brought to trial within the 180 day period prescribed by Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100, which provides, "Trial in a court case in which a written complaint is filed [509 Pa. 14] against the defendant ... shall commence no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date on which the complaint is filed." Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(a)(2). The courts below held that the final permissible date for commencement of appellant's trial should be calculated from the filing of the second (i.e. criminal homicide) complaint, rather than from the filing of the first (i.e. aggravated assault) complaint. Appellant concedes that if the date of filing of the second complaint is regarded as controlling, trial commenced in a timely fashion. It is argued by appellant, however, that the date of filing of the first complaint marked the beginning of the 180 day period for trial.

The final permissible date for trial to begin, if computed from the date of filing of the initial complaint, was March 25, 1981. On that date, the Commonwealth filed a Petition to Extend the Time for Commencement of Trial, and this petition was granted by the Court of Common Pleas on March 27, 1981. Appellant contests the timeliness of this extension, as well as the basis for this extension, thus raising an issue as to whether trial commenced in a timely fashion if the period for trial is regarded as having commenced with the filing of the first complaint. We believe, however, that the courts below properly

Page 803

determined that the filing of the second complaint, charging appellant with criminal homicide, marked the beginning of the 180 day period for trial on that charge. Thus, a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 1100, which was filed by appellant prior to trial, was properly denied.

The keystone of judicial decisions applying Rule 1100 has been a recognition that an abuse of the spirit of that Rule would occur if the Commonwealth were permitted to delay trials by simply, at will, withdrawing or dismissing complaints and filing new ones, thereby beginning anew the 180 day period for commencement of trial. In response to this potential means of evading the intent of Rule 1100, a body of case law has developed which defines the limited circumstances under which the period for trial will be deemed to run anew when a complaint subsequent to the first complaint[509 Pa. 15] is filed. See Commonwealth v. Horner, 497 Pa. 565, 442 A.2d 682 (1982); Commonwealth v. Genovese, 493 Pa. 65, 425 A.2d 367 (1981).

In the case primarily relied upon by appellant, Commonwealth v. Ardolino, 304 Pa.Super. 268, 273-277, 450 A.2d 674, 677-679 (1982), the Superior Court reaffirmed its established rule that, when an initial complaint has been withdrawn or otherwise dismissed, the 180 day period begins to run anew with the filing of a subsequent complaint only if (1) the...

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14 practice notes
  • Com. v. Trill
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • July 8, 1988
    ...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 offered the following standard for reviewing Rule 1100 So long as there has been......
  • Com. v. Braykovich
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 8, 1995
    ...dismiss a complaint and charge a defendant anew at will, that would result in an abuse of the spirit of Rule 1100. Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 14, 500 A.2d 801, 803 (1985). We find no such abuse in the present case, however. The first complaint in the case was properly dismissed at t......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Peterson
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 4, 2011
    ...began with the second complaint where there was no intent by the Commonwealth to evade the speedy-trial rule.5 Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801 (1985) and Commonwealth v. Whiting, 509 Pa. 20, 500 A.2d 806 (1985); see also Commonwealth v. Genovese, 493 Pa. 65, 425 A.2d 367 (19......
  • Commonwealth v. Harth, No. 13 EAP 2020
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 22, 2021
    ...prosecution of criminal cases, both to restrain those guilty of crime and to deter those contemplating it." Commonwealth v. Simms , 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801, 804 (1985) ; Crowley , 466 A.2d at 1012 ; Genovese , 425 A.2d at 370.The majority's holding will not further the interests of defenda......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Com. v. Trill
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • July 8, 1988
    ...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 offered the following standard for reviewing Rule 1100 So long as there has been......
  • Com. v. Braykovich
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 8, 1995
    ...dismiss a complaint and charge a defendant anew at will, that would result in an abuse of the spirit of Rule 1100. Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 14, 500 A.2d 801, 803 (1985). We find no such abuse in the present case, however. The first complaint in the case was properly dismissed at t......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Peterson
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • May 4, 2011
    ...began with the second complaint where there was no intent by the Commonwealth to evade the speedy-trial rule.5 Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801 (1985) and Commonwealth v. Whiting, 509 Pa. 20, 500 A.2d 806 (1985); see also Commonwealth v. Genovese, 493 Pa. 65, 425 A.2d 367 (19......
  • Commonwealth v. Harth, No. 13 EAP 2020
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 22, 2021
    ...prosecution of criminal cases, both to restrain those guilty of crime and to deter those contemplating it." Commonwealth v. Simms , 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801, 804 (1985) ; Crowley , 466 A.2d at 1012 ; Genovese , 425 A.2d at 370.The majority's holding will not further the interests of defenda......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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