Com. v. Whiting

Decision Date22 November 1985
Citation500 A.2d 806,509 Pa. 20
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, v. Glenn WHITING, Appellant. 24 E.D. 1985
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

John A. Reilly, Dist. Atty., Sandra L. Elias, Deputy Dist. Atty., Joseph J. Mittleman, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.



FLAHERTY, Justice.

Appellant Glenn Whiting's petition for allowance of appeal from the Order of the Superior Court, Commonwealth v. Whiting, 333 Pa.Super. 633, 482 A.2d 670 (1984), affirming the judgment of sentence of the trial court, 1 was granted to consider the manner of computing time under Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 where a committing magistrate dismisses charges pursuant to a Commonwealth motion to dismiss.

On the basis of the statement of a co-actor, a complaint charging appellant with, inter alia, robbery, kidnapping and various weapons offenses was filed on June 12, 1980. The charges stemmed from the June 7-8, 1980 armed robbery of a cab driver. As the victim failed to identify appellant as his attacker at a line-up conducted prior to the preliminary hearing, the Commonwealth moved for dismissal of the charges on the basis of a lack of identification testimony. 2 Without hearing any testimony the district magistrate granted the motion and dismissed the charges on July 24, 1980. A second complaint was filed on May 14, 1981, and trial commenced on November 9, 1981--the 179th day after the filing of the second complaint. Appellant contends that (1) as his arrest was effected on information of a co-actor who was not present at the preliminary hearing but who was the Commonwealth's chief witness at trial and (2) as the original charges were dismissed at the instigation of the Commonwealth, the run date for purposes of Rule 1100 should be computed from the date of the first complaint.

As the prosecution under the original complaint was dismissed not after any independent review by the magistrate, but on motion of the Commonwealth, we treat this case as a voluntary withdrawal of the prosecution by the Commonwealth. For the purposes of computing time for trial under Rule 1100 then, the dismissal in this case is tantamount to a nolle prosequi. A nolle prosequi is a voluntary withdrawal by the prosecuting attorney of proceedings on a particular bill or information, which can at anytime be retracted to permit a revival of proceedings on the original bill or information. See, Commonwealth v. McLaughlin, 293 Pa. 218, 142 A. 213 (1928).

Appellant relies primarily on Commonwealth v. Whitaker, 467 Pa. 436, 359 A.2d 174 (1976) and Commonwealth v. Brennan, 264 Pa.Super. 206, 399 A.2d 739 (1979), to substantiate his argument that the speedy trial time commences running from the date of the first complaint. In Whitaker, this Court first addressed the manner of computing time under Rule 1100 in a matter which was voluntarily terminated by the Commonwealth. There, with two days left for the commencement of trial within the period prescribed in Rule 1100, the Commonwealth moved for leave to enter a nolle prosequi on grounds it had no admissible evidence with which to prosecute the case. The lack of evidence resulted from suppression of certain of appellee's statements to police and the unexpected refusal of a co-defendant to testify. This Court rejected the Commonwealth's suggestion that a nolle prosequi should toll the running of the speedy trial time period specified in Rule 1100. Instead, we held that, on the record in Whitaker, the nolle prosequi "was simply an effort to gain an extension of the time period during which [the Commonwealth] was required to bring [the defendant] to trial," Commonwealth v. Whitaker, supra, at 443, 359 A.2d at 177, and, as such, was an impermissible substitute for compliance with the extension of time provision of Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(c). We ruled that the speedy trial period should be computed from the date of the complaint, and that Whitaker's trial was, ultimately, untimely.

In Commonwealth v. Brennan, supra, Superior Court was confronted with a factual situation remarkably similar to the case sub judice. There, as here, the prosecution was terminated at the preliminary hearing "either by withdrawal of charges by the Commonwealth, or by dismissal of the complaint." Based on Whitaker, Superior Court held that if the prosecution was withdrawn, then the 180 day period of Rule 1100 must be computed from the date of the first complaint; but if the first complaint was properly dismissed and if the record failed to reflect an improper prosecutorial design to circumvent Rule 1100, then the speedy trial time period would run from the date of the second complaint. Commonwealth v. Brennan, supra, is inapplicable to the matter before us, however, as, seven months after Brennan was decided, this Court limited Whitaker to instances "where there is an obvious attempt to...

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16 cases
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Peterson
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • May 4, 2011 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 (1981); Commonwealth v. Sires, 284 Pa.Super. 50, 424 A.2d 138......
  • State v. Lowther
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • February 17, 1989
    ...State v. Mills, 307 N.C. 504, 299 S.E.2d 203 (1983); State v. Stephans, 52 Ohio App.2d 361, 370 N.E.2d 759 (1977); Commonwealth v. Whiting, 509 Pa. 20, 500 A.2d 806 (1985); Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801 (1985). " '[P]roper dismissal' includes a dismissal for failure to mak......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Peterson, 120 EDA 2009
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • May 4, 2011 intent by the Commonwealth to evade the speedy-trial rule.5 Commonwealth v. Simms, 500 A.2d 801 (Pa. 1985) and Commonwealth v. Whiting, 500 A.2d 806 (Pa. 1985); see also Commonwealth v. Genovese, 425 A.2d 367 (Pa. 1981); Commonwealth v. Sires, 424 A.2d 1386 (Pa.Super. 1981). The Meadius ......
  • Com. v. Meadius
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • March 29, 2005
    ...the trial court rejected the Commonwealth's argument that the case is controlled by this Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Whiting, 509 Pa. 20, 500 A.2d 806 (1985). In Whiting, the district magistrate granted the Commonwealth's motion for dismissal at the preliminary hearing. The Commonwe......
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