Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyer Lloyd Long discusses details surrounding the Pennsylvania’s Superior Court’s decision in the Thompson case. The Superior Court had previously vacated an illegal mandatory sentence and remanded this matter for resentencing and further consideration of the appellant’s Rule 600 motion.

Two time periods were at issue for the Rule 600 claim; the appellant was not brought down from state custody in either instance. Either instance would put the trial beyond the adjusted run date, requiring a dismissal of charges if not excusable. The first was summarily determined to be attributable to the defense as its request for a continuance.

For the second period, there was no notation in the Quarter Sessions file (from 2011). The ADA assigned to the case at the relevant time testified that the Commonwalth’s file did not indicate whether a writ was requested for the listing, but that standard procedure was to request a writ but not mark the file because it was such a routine act. The trial court found this testimony to be credible, and determined that the Commonwealth had requested a writ and acted with due diligence.

The panel reversed, finding that the lower court had committed an abuse of discretion. Rule 600 requires the Commonwealth to demonstrate that it acted with due diligence in order for a period of delay to be excusable. Part of due diligence is keeping adequate records to ensure compliance with Rule 600. The Quarter Sessions file did not reflect that a writ had been issued, nor did the DA’s file. Though credible, the ADA’s mere assertions of due diligence by “common practice” without supporting facts were insufficient to meet its burden.