Commonwealth v. Zorambo

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBROWN, J.
Citation54 A. 716,205 Pa. 109
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. ZORAMBO.
Decision Date02 February 1903
54 A. 716
205 Pa. 109

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ZORAMBO.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Feb. 2, 1903.


Appeal from Court of Oyer and Terminer. Luzerne County; Lynch, Judge.

Victor Zorambo was convicted of murder in the first degree, and appeals. Reversed.

Argued before MITCHELL, DEAN, FELL, BROWN, MESTREZAT, and POTTER, JJ.

R. Nelson Bennett and Evan C. Jones, for appellant.

B. R. Jones, Dist. Atty., for the Commonwealth.

BROWN, J. The appellant and Peter Lenousky were charged jointly with the murder of Anthony Sennick. Both are foreigners, speaking their own language and not understanding ours. They were arrested within a few hours from the commission of the crime, and shortly afterwards given a hearing before a magistrate, who committed them for trial. At the hearing there was present, among other officers of the law, an assistant district attorney, with his stenographer and an interpreter. While in the magistrate's office Leuousky said he wished to make a statement. He was immediately warned by the assistant district attorney not to speak, as any statement he would make might be used against him on his trial in court. He persisted, however, in making a statement, and, after having been sworn by the magistrate, proceeded to give in detail a confession which he alleged Zorambo had made to him of his guilt alone of the crime charged against them both. This alleged confession implicated no one but Zorambo, and the statement made by Lenousky was manifestly for the purpose of exculpating himself, who has since been also convicted of the willful murder of Sennick. The statement was taken down by the stenographer as interpreted to him by the interpreter. Zorambo sat still and made no reply to the accusation of his confederate in the crime.

It is not disputed by the commonwealth that, when Lenousky was warned by the assistant district attorney, through an interpreter, not to make any statement, Zorambo heard and understood what was said. On his trial this statement of Lenousky, as taken down by the stenographer—practically a deposition by him—was offered by the commonwealth as evidence of the prisoner's guilt—first, because he had not spoken and denied the accusation when Lenousky made it before the magistrate; and, secondly, because, on the day following, when his attention was called to it, he had declared it to

54 A. 717

be false. At the time the offer was made it was objected to, for the reason that the statement "was made during a legal proceeding, when the accused had no right to speak, or at least was not bound to speak." This objection was overruled by the learned trial judge, and the offer admitted, for the reason, as given by him, that the statement "was made after the proceeding had ended before the magistrate." The single error assigned is that "the court erred in admitting in evidence the stenographer's notes of Lenousky's statement made in the magistrate's office."

It is by no means certain that the hearing...

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34 practice notes
  • Commonwealth v. Vallone.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 30, 1943
    ...of a judicial hearing has it been held that the silence of the accused is not admissible in evidence against him. Commonwealth v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 54 A. 716. As to the ‘staging’ of the meeting, a planned attempt to obtain evidence concerning a crime already committed has never been hel......
  • Commonwealth v. Karmendi
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 12, 1937
    ...the effect of an admission (see Com. v. Ballon, 229 Pa. 323, 78 A. 831), provided there is motive or opportunity to deny. Com. v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 54 A. 716; Com. v. Mazarella, 279 Pa. 465, 124 A. 163. Here, if the accused were innocent, there was ample motive to deny. Ordinarily, sile......
  • Commonwealth v. Turza
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 25, 1940
    ...264 Pa. 85, 92, 107 A. 676; Com. v. Ballon, 229 Pa. 323, 327, 78 A. 831; Com. v. Johnson, 213 Pa. 607, 608, 63 A. 134; Com. v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 112, 54 A. 716. And, in these situations, evasive and equivocal responses are tantamount to absolute silence. Com. v. Westwood, 324 Pa. 289, 3......
  • Cummings v. Conn. Gen. Life Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 14, 1930
    ...arisen in criminal cases wherein a witness has made some incriminating statement which the respondent does not deny, like Com. v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 54 A. 716, 717, and Com. v. Kenney, 12 Mete. (Mass.) 235, 46 Am. Dec. 672. But Hauser v. Goodstein, 75 N. J. Law, 66, 66 A. 932, was a civi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Vallone.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 30, 1943
    ...of a judicial hearing has it been held that the silence of the accused is not admissible in evidence against him. Commonwealth v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 54 A. 716. As to the ‘staging’ of the meeting, a planned attempt to obtain evidence concerning a crime already committed has never been hel......
  • Commonwealth v. Karmendi
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 12, 1937
    ...the effect of an admission (see Com. v. Ballon, 229 Pa. 323, 78 A. 831), provided there is motive or opportunity to deny. Com. v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 54 A. 716; Com. v. Mazarella, 279 Pa. 465, 124 A. 163. Here, if the accused were innocent, there was ample motive to deny. Ordinarily, sile......
  • Commonwealth v. Turza
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 25, 1940
    ...264 Pa. 85, 92, 107 A. 676; Com. v. Ballon, 229 Pa. 323, 327, 78 A. 831; Com. v. Johnson, 213 Pa. 607, 608, 63 A. 134; Com. v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 112, 54 A. 716. And, in these situations, evasive and equivocal responses are tantamount to absolute silence. Com. v. Westwood, 324 Pa. 289, 3......
  • Cummings v. Conn. Gen. Life Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 14, 1930
    ...arisen in criminal cases wherein a witness has made some incriminating statement which the respondent does not deny, like Com. v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 54 A. 716, 717, and Com. v. Kenney, 12 Mete. (Mass.) 235, 46 Am. Dec. 672. But Hauser v. Goodstein, 75 N. J. Law, 66, 66 A. 932, was a civi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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