A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

By Burt Rose

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The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has decided the case of COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellant v. Gerald GARZONE, Appellee, 2012 WL 149334, Nos. 53 EAP 2010, 54 EAP 2010 (Jan. 19, 2012), an appeal from a Judgment of the Superior Court entered at Nos. 695 EDA 2006, 780 EDA 2009, 993 A.2d 306 (Pa.Super. 2010), 993 A.2d 1245 (Pa.Super. 2010), affirming in part and vacating in part a Judgment of Sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at Nos. CP–51–CR–0012746–2007and CP 51-CR-0012747-2007.

The question presented was whether the Superior Court erred in removing the cost of employing county detectives and assistant district attorneys from the trial court’s discretion to impose prosecution expenses on a convicted offender.

16 P.S. Section 7708 is titled, “Expenses incurred in investigation of crime, etc.; payment by county or defendant”, and states as follows:

All necessary expenses incurred by the district attorneys of any county of this Commonwealth or his assistants, or any officer directed by him, in the investigation of crime and the apprehension and prosecution of persons charged with or suspected of the commission of crime, shall be paid by the respective counties, out of moneys in the county treasury, upon the approval of the bill of expense by the district attorney and the court of their respective counties. And in cases where a defendant is convicted and sentenced to pay the costs of prosecution and trial, the expenses of the district attorney, in connection with such prosecution, shall be considered a part of the costs of the cases and be paid by the defendant.

The Court found that Section 7708 does not authorize recovery by the Commonwealth, as expenses, of its costs relating to the salaries of its regularly staffed personnel. If the General Assembly intended to permit such recovery of regularly paid salaries of assistant district attorneys and detectives to be costs associated with the prosecution, the Legislature would have expressly done so. Therefore, the judgment of the Superior Court was affirmed.

Justices Saylor, Eakin, Baer, Todd, McCaffery and Orie Melvin joined in the Opinion.

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