Com. v. Smith

CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania
Citation244 A.2d 787,212 Pa.Super. 403
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Ronald S. SMITH.
Decision Date13 June 1968

Page 787

244 A.2d 787
212 Pa.Super. 403
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania
Ronald S. SMITH.
Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
June 13, 1968.
Petition for Allowance of Appeal Denied Sept. 6, 1968.

Norman Klinger, Philadelphia, for appellee.


JACOBS, Judge.

Defendant was arrested in 1964 and charged with assault and battery with intent to ravish and indecent assault. With counsel he waived indictment, pled guilty [212 Pa.Super. 405] and was sentenced to 2 1/2--5 years. After exhausting state post-conviction remedies, defendant was granted a hearing before Judge LUONGO of the Federal District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. From the evidence presented Judge LUONGO was convinced that due to defendant's mental condition, he had not entered a knowing and intelligent guilty plea. Therefore, on April 3, 1967, that court ordered defendant's release but deferred issuing the writ so that the Commonwealth might appeal, or retry defendant. Defendant was released on bail and the case was listed for retrial on the old bill of indictment, No. 201 September Term, 1964. Prior to trial defense counsel filed a number of motions. On September 12, 1967, a new indictment (No. 1187, 1967) for the same offense was found by the grand jury which defendant then moved to quash. After hearing and argument the Honorable ROBERT W. HONEYMAN heard and disposed of all the pending pretrial motions by orders dater October 16 and 23, 1967.

The Commonwealth has appealed from the order of the lower court suppressing certain evidence and defendant has also appealed from the lower court's refusal to set aside the magistrate's commitment or to quash the indictment.


The Commonwealth's appeal is improper in light of the standard set forth in Commonwealth v. Bosurgi, 411 Pa. 56, 190 A.2d 304 (1963). Bosurgi and subsequent cases have permitted the Commonwealth to appeal pretrial suppression orders whenever such orders will 'substantially handicap' the Commonwealth; whenever 'The evidence suppressed may well mark the difference between success and failure in the prosecution * * *.' 411 Pa. at 63, 190 A.2d at 308. See also [212 Pa.Super. 406] Commonwealth v. Fisher, 422 Pa. 134, 221 A.2d 115 (1966). In the present prosecution the Commonwealth's case is virtually intact despite the suppression. The Commonwealth has agreed that all of defendant's statements to police are inadmissible, but insists that defendant's oral apology to the victim, while in custody without a lawyer and in the presence of the police, was a volunteered statement which should be admissible. 1 Aside from that apology, the Commonwealth has substantial identification testimony from the victim of the assault. After the assault she picked out defendant's photograph and later identified him in person. Although defendant's apology would corroborate identification, we cannot say that loss of this evidence would 'substantially handicap' the Commonwealth's proof that he was the assailant. 2 Therefore, the Commonwealth may not appeal from this order of suppression. The appeal is quashed.

Page 789


It is not clear what remedy the defendant is seeking by his petition to set aside the commitment. He claims that his arrest was invalid, that he was not given the right to be heard at the preliminary hearing and that the commitment and binding over were based on false testimony.

If defendant is asking to be discharged, he is easily answered. On June 9, 1967 the defendant gave bail [212 Pa.Super. 407] together with his recognizance and was released from custody. His application to set aside the commitment was filed June 12, 1967. After bail has been given neither the validity of an arrest nor the legality of proceedings before a magistrate may be questioned on a petition to discharge the defendant from his recognizance, and the court properly refused to set aside the commitment. Commonwealth v. Weinstein, 177 Pa.Super. 1, 109 A.2d 235 (1954); Commonwealth v. Hill, 166 Pa.Super. 388, 71 A.2d 812 (1950).

Defendant argues that the Commonwealth did not show a prima facie case at the preliminary hearing and that he should not have been held for the grand jury. Assuming arguendo that the defendant can raise the issue, we are satisfied that there was a valid binding over in this case. An information was filed charging defendant with assault with intent to ravish. A warrant was issued for his arrest and a hearing held before a justice of the peace on September 26, 1964. At the hearing defendant was present with his counsel and did not testify. 3 All that was necessary for the Commonwealth to do was to show a prima facie case, i.e., sufficient probable cause to believe that the defendant had committed the offense. Commonwealth v. Burger, 195 Pa.Super. 175, 171 A.2d 599 (1961);...

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