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City of Philadelphia

Department of Records

Records Management Division Procedures


Philadelphia Criminal Court Records Sampling Project Guidelines


 

 

 

Prepared by the Philadelphia Criminal Court Records Sampling Project Staff

 

By Gail E. Farr

with the assistance of Anna Martin and Bridget Elwork

 

 

 

with funds provided by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

November 1999

 

 

 

City Archives of Philadelphia

3101 Market Street, Suite 150

Philadelphia, PA 19104-4709

Phone (215) 685-9401

FAX (215) 685-9409

http://phila.gov/phils/carchive.html

 

 The following is a description of procedures to be employed in sampling records of the Clerk of Court of Quarter Sessions as begun by the Philadelphia Criminal Court Records Sampling Project in 1997-99. The procedures are described in the following order:

Sample Group B, Homicide and Manslaughter

Sample Group A, Random Sample Group

Sample Group C, Spectacular and Notorious Cases

 

  1. Procedure for Selecting Sample Group B: Homicide and Manslaughter
  2. One of the categories of criminal court records identified for permanent retention in the years from 1940 and later are those pertaining to charges of homicide (murder) or manslaughter. Documentation pertaining to all cases of first, second, and third degree murder or manslaughter are to be retained.

    The most reliable means we have found to identify these records for the years from 1940 up through the computerization of the court docket in the late 1960s is through a manual search of the court docket index volumes. The index volumes up through the year 1950 are housed in the City Records Center at 3101 Market Street. The indexes for the years 1951-1968 are housed at the Criminal Justice Center, Office of the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, 1301 Filbert Street, and 3rd Floor.

    The docket indexes are arranged alphabetically by last name of defendant and first letter of the first name. Within this chronological arrangement, the index entries are listed chronologically by term and indictment number. There is one index volume for each letter of the alphabet: i.e., 1940 has a volume A, a volume B, a volume C, etc., though some letters such as "X, Y, Z" are combined into one volume. The indexes include the following information: last name of defendant, first name of defendant, middle initial, term and number, and charge.

    To demonstrate how the index works, suppose you are researching a case concerning a defendant named Hilton Smith which was heard before the court in 1941. The names of all defendants with the last name starting with "S" and first name starting with "H" appear under subheadings indicating the court session (term) in which the case was heard (June 1940, July 1941, etc.) See Attachment #1. Hilton Smith?s last name starts with "S" and his first name starts with "H". Look in the "S" volume for 1941 under the "H" index tab.

    Next to the defendant?s name, under the column headed "Term and Number," will be several numbers. These refer to the number(s) of the bill or bills of indictment in which that person, and possibly several other persons, were charged. The charge for which the person was indicted appears in the column headed "charge." In our preceding example, the index shows Hilton Smith was charged with involuntary manslaughter in May 1941, bill of indictment no. 181

    The procedure to be employed in the sampling project is to go through each volume in alphabetical order (A-Z) and look carefully through the column headed "charge" to identify all those listing a charge or murder or manslaughter. We want you to transfer the essential information about each case of murder or manslaughter to a worksheet on which you will compile a list of names of each defendant, the session/ month in which the charge was heard, and the bill of indictment number or numbers. You will note that often there are two bill numbers. This indicates that the person was charged with both murder and manslaughter. Please take down both numbers.

    Additionally, you may find that a person indicted for murder or manslaughter was also indicted on another charge?for example, charges of larceny or burglary. Hilton Smith was indicted on two charges involving unlawful operation of a motor vehicle (May 1941, bills 182-183). Because of the consecutive numbering, the record suggests he was indicted on the motor vehicle charges at the same time he was indicted for involuntary manslaughter (May 1941, bill 181). For the purposes of the sampling project, we consider all three indictments to be related charges because they all relate to the same crime episode. Therefore we want you to note the number of the indictment for the charge of murder or manslaughter as well as the number or numbers of bills for any related charges you might find. To go back to our example of Hilton Smith, on your worksheet entry for Hilton Smith, you would record all three indictments as follows:

    May 1941 Smith, Hilton 181-183

    So that we know we need to pull all three indictments relating to this crime episode.

    Remember: for the sampling project, we want to preserve all records pertaining to cases of murder or manslaughter so be sure to review the index carefully.

    Another point regarding the entry for Hilton Smith: the handwriting in the index can be hard to read. Please try and do the best you can. If you are in doubt, try and decipher the writing as best you can on your worksheet and then insert a question mark with brackets ( [?] ) behind the name to indicate that you are not sure this is the correct spelling. Your care on this point will save time later on when we go to pull the case record.

    Please study the attached sample worksheet for the project (Attachment #2). Note the space at the top of the sheet for inserting the year of the index volumes you are searching. Also note the blanks for inserting your initials and date of search. Please also write page numbers on your worksheets in the blank for the year: for example, YEAR: 1960-page 1, 1960-page 2, as this helps us keep track of the worksheets.

    It is very important that you make every effort to copy the name exactly as it appears in the index. Please write neatly. Be especially careful in taking down the names of defendants, year and term (month) the case was heard, and the indictment numbers because we need this information to retrieve the case files.

    Worksheets are available from the court records sampling project office. Please complete one work assignment and check with your supervisor before proceeding to your next assignment.

    For docket indexes for 1940-1968:

    City Archives, Department of Records, City of Philadelphia, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-2807 phone (215) 685-9401

    For docket indexes for 1951-1968:

    Clerk of Quarter Sessions, Criminal Justice Center, 3rd Floor, 1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

      

    Update: July 2, 1999:

    As of late fall 1998, the research in docket indexes for cases of homicide and manslaughter from 1940 through January 1968 had been completed and the information has been entered into the database. Research to identify homicide cases should resume for the period starting after January 1968 using a somewhat different method. After January 1968, the court began using a computerized docket index. The First Judicial District has supplied the sampling project with reports of the data files on floppy disks and information on cases of homicide and manslaughter can be retrieved through computerized searches.

    When project staff began to retrieve the files on homicide and manslaughter cases, they found additional cases of homicide and manslaughter in the files which did not appear in the index. These additional cases were automatically included in the sample when located. Errors of spelling in defendants? names which appeared in the index were corrected in the database inventory of the sample whenever possible.

    Staff were also struck by the large number of homicide cases that were appealed. This means that in addition to the documentation concerning the initial court proceedings the homicide case files usually contain material pertaining to appellate decisions continuing for months or years after the date of the original charge. In the sampling that was done through June 1999, all appellate cases identified during the process of file segregation were placed with the files selected for permanent retention.

    The Department of Records is indebted to Rita Beatty, Joseph McGillan, and Paul Dolan who volunteered their time to do the manual docket searching for homicides (1940-Jan. 1968) in 1997-1998.

     

  3. Procedure for Selecting Sample Group A: Random Number Group

Part of the sample of cases being selected for permanent retention is randomly selected cases. These cases have been selected in order to represent a cross-section of all crimes occurring in Philadelphia. Through this method we are preserving a representation of the kinds of crimes that were being committed - not just homicides or spectacular cases, but also various kinds of charges which appeared relatively frequently.

The court sampling staff and advisory team have devised a method of random sampling that is appropriate for sampling the criminal case files of Philadelphia County. The method used for the years between 1940-1959 is slightly different than the method used for the years after 1959 because of changes in the filing system. For the years between 1940-1959, we work with bills of indictment for specified months to identify groups of related charges that together constitute a case or criminal episode. We then select a percentage of these groups of related charges for permanent preservation using output from a computerized sampling tool which we refer to as the Random Number Generator (RNG).

After March 1959, the clerk of the Court of Quarter Session filed bills of indictment for related charges with the notes of testimony for proceedings concerning those same charges in one case file, so they are already grouped together. Therefore, the sampling procedure for the years after 1959 is to count the number of case files in the specified months and select a random sample of the case files using the same computerized sampling tool that was used for the years from 1940-1959.

 

  1. Preparing the Random Sample

In order to prepare the random sample, we need to first identify groups of related charges working with bills of indictment for specified months. These months have already been chosen and are listed in Appendix RNG-1. Your supervisor will assign a month for you to work on, one month at a time.

Starting with the first bill in the month and working through to the last in the month, look for groups of related cases and process as described below.

  1. How to identify related charges: The two most important things to check are:
  • Check the name, or names, on the face of the bills of indictment?are they the same? If so, there?s a strong likelihood that these are related charges.
  • Look for handwritten notations at the top of the bill. Usually these are written in pencil. The notations most likely take one of the following two forms:

"With Aug 422"

Or

"Also Nov. 135"

These notations indicate associated cases. If the associated case referred to is in the same month and year that you are processing, find the associated bill and clip it to the first bill to form a group. Using pencil only, number the clusters of related bills (described in "Number the Clusters" below).

If the associated case appearing in the notation is found in another month besides the one you are processing, copy the notation including month, year, and indictment number on the paper flap to help us keep track of the information.

On the faces on many of the bills there are notations that don?t take these two forms. While you should glance to see if any of these are of interest, chances are they are not crucial to making the clusters.

B. Other Ways to Check for Associated Cases

Sometimes it isn?t clear whether charges listed in consecutive sequence are related or not. For example, it is possible to have several bills in consecutive order where the people are charged with the same crime, but the defendants have different names. This situation occurs in things like police raids or riots where many people may be arrested at the same time for the same crime. One indication is to look on the back of the bills where the names of the witnesses and the names of the detectives appear to see if the same names appear. If they are, you can assume that they are related bills and constitute one case. If you are unsure, ask your supervisor.

It is also important to remember that not every charge has other related charges. From sampling done so far, we have found that about 1 in every 2 or 3 bills has an associated bill.

Normally, if you find a group of related bills, it will only consist of two or three bills. However, you should also be aware that it is possible to have very large clusters. Project staff found one cluster that had over a thousand bills all associated with a case of voting fraud. If you find such a case, be sure to handle it carefully to avoid damaging the documents. Bundle carefully, separating the cluster into several bunches with the same cluster number if necessary. Do not bundle tightly.

If you identify a case that is this large, it must have been of some significance. Be on the lookout for instances of crimes that seem to be of an unusual character, such as a very large size or number of defendants. Also look for types of crimes, which don?t normally occur too often. We are especially interested in locating cases of abortion, abandonment of child, or infanticide, discrimination on account of race, religion, or color, and inciting riot, which are hard to find. Please give such cases a number as usual but set them aside so the project archivist can insert the information into the database for selected cases.

Along the same lines, you may come across orange pull cards in the box. These cards represent bills that were removed some time ago and the original bills have not been re-filed. Since the pull card is the only record we have that the documents exist, we have to treat them in the same manner as a regular Bill of Indictment. Usually the name of the defendant is listed on the card or on the paper stapled on the card. Check the bills filed in front of or behind the pull card to see if there are other charges associated with the one represented by the pull card. Give the card (along with any associated bills) a cluster number as usual.

You many also come across files, usually large ones, with "Appellant" written on the front. These are appealed cases. Files for appealed cases almost always contain documents that are dated 2, 5, 10 or more years after the defendant was originally charged for the crime. The project is retaining appellant cases in order to comply with retention requirements. Give such cases a cluster number as usual when you come across them. Show them to your supervisor so that they can be entered into the database.

C. Forming the Clusters of Related Charges

As you identify groups of related charges, clip the bills of indictment together gently using a paper clip. Or, if it is very thick, fasten the pile of bills together using a rubber band (not too tightly, though?you don?t want the rubber band to cut through the paper).

D. Number the clusters

Number the clusters of related cases starting with "1" and continuing consecutively throughout the month. Numbering procedures: We write the numbers on strips of scrap paper and then fold the strip over the top of the bill so that the number shows on the flap. (See attached diagram, Appendix RNG-2). Make sure that the flap is small enough so that you can still see the blue printed indictment number printed on the original indictment. In other words, take care not to cover the original bill number. Fasten the numbered strip of paper onto the top of the cluster with the paper clip. If it is a thick cluster that is rubber-banded together, fasten the numbered strip onto the top sheets of the folded bill so it stays securely attached. Write the numbers on the strips using pencil, not pen. Pay attention that your numbering stays in consecutive order. Any breaks in the numbering process alters the computer program and ultimately disrupts the accuracy of the sample.

E. Paper strips

We have a large stock of white scrap paper and a paper cutter to cut it into strips. Cut the strips the short way (not the long way). Otherwise they will be too big and you don?t want the strips to trail over the bottom edge of the Bills of Indictment.

F. Set the Clusters in Boxes

Keeping the clusters in numerical order, place them into record storage containers in neat columns using cardboard dividers between the columns. Don?t pack the clusters in too tightly. Don?t try to fit the all back into the box they came out of. Expand into an additional box or two if necessary and attach a label to the side of the box indicating the month and year.

G. Last cluster number

As soon as you have completed numbering the clusters in each month, give the number of the last cluster to the project supervisor so cases can be selected using the Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG creates a list of numbers of selected clusters.

  1. Creating the Datasheet For the Random Number Sample
  2. Using the numbers listed on the Random Number Generator printout for your month, retrieve the clusters with the same numbers from the box. Be sure you use the cluster number that a project staff member has written on the white paper clipped to the bill and NOT the blue bill number printed on the face of the document. Keep the selected clusters in numerical order. Once you have done this you are ready to fill out the datasheet with the needed information. Accuracy is essential because this sheet will be used to enter this information into the database.

    Using the sheet given to you by your supervisor, cross out the existing headings on the dittos and create new ones. Follow the example in Appendix (B). From left to right the headings should read, Cluster #, Bill #, 1st Bill #, Last Bill #, Last Name, First Name, Middle, Alias, and Charge. Starting with the first cluster number chosen for that month, enter the data under the correct headings.

    A. Bill # (year/month)

    The Bill # is a code for the year and the month that the charge occurred in. For example, if you are entering data from the month of March in 1950, then the Bill # should be written on the sheet as 5003. Basically, use the first two digits to represent the year and the last second two numbers to represent the twelve months of the year (i.e. 01=January, 12=December) When you are writing a datasheet it is for one particular month, so this column should remain the same.

    B. 1st Bill #

    The 1st Bill # refers to the blue indictment number on the front of the document and any related charges. First, if the blue number is anything less than a four digit number, meaning anything below 1000, then zeros should be entered in front of the number to make it four digits. For example, if the blue indictment number is 345, then the 1st Bill should read 0345-. The dash following the four-digit number is a reference to related charges. If the bill is alone in the cluster, with NO related consecutive charges, then enter a zero after the dash. However, if the cluster contains related charges that follow consecutively after that indictment number, then after the dash you should write a 9. Therefore, if bill 345 was clustered with bills 346 and 347, the 1st Bill # column should read, 0345-9.

    C. Last Bill #

    If there are related bills, you must fill in this column. Meaning, if you entered a 9 after the dash, then there are related bills that need to be entered here. Find the last bill that is related and its blue indictment number. As before, if the blue numbers are less than four digits, then enter zeros before them to make it a four-digit number. To correspond with the database structure, you must a also re-enter the year and the month as you did in the 1st Bill # column. Using the same year and month code as you did in the first column, attach it to the beginning of the Last Bill #. So, using the example above, then the Last Bill # column should read, 5003-0347.

    D. Last Name, First Name and Middle Initial

    The next three columns should be self-explanatory. Enter the Last Name, First Name, and Middle Initial, of the defendant listed on the face of the bill. If there is more than one defendant on the bill of indictment, then list them on separate lines. Be sure to enter the 1st Bill # and Last Bill # that corresponds to the defendants correctly.

    E. Alias

    Aliases appear occasionally on the face of the bills of indictment. Enter the last name of the alias first, followed by a comma and the first name and middle initial, if one is listed. Sometimes an alias only consists of one name (i.e. "Fats" or "Slick Willie"). If this is the case then enter only that one name. Other times there are several aliases for one person. In that case, enter the first one like a normal alias and abbreviate the remaining ones to fit the space. For example, only list the last names of the other aliases.

    F. Charges

    Finally, you must enter the charge that is listed on the bill. Most of these charges can be abbreviated to save space and time. For example, Assault and Battery can be listed as A&B and Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon as CCDW. Look at Appendix () for more examples of common abbreviations or ask your supervisor. If there is more than one charge listed on the bill squeeze what you feel to be the most important charges in the space provided. The most important charge is usually listed first on the face of the bill. Try to do this as neatly as possible because someone has to read the sheet to be able to enter things into the database.

  3. Entering Information from Randomly Selected Cases Datasheets into the Database

Once the essential information has been transferred from the randomly selected Bills of Indictment documents onto the datasheet, the next step is to enter this information into the database. The datasheet was designed to follow the format of the database headings to make this process easy to follow. The trickiest part is getting the information entered correctly with as few mistakes as possible. The typist should have a background in general computer use, such as mouse manipulation and general windows applications before beginning this process. Once these things are taught, even people with little computer experience should find this process easy. The following is a map of window locations to get to the desired database screen.

  • From the "Program Manager" screen, choose Microsoft Access by double clicking (the left button on the mouse) on the icon.
  • From the gray box, highlight the correct database for the year you are entering, then click on the OK button.
  • From the "Open" box, follow the same process, then click on OPEN.
  • The next dialogue box will be labeled with the name of the database you have chosen. In this box there are two choices, Tables or Forms, in which you could enter the information from the datasheet. While either is acceptable, an extensive pull down menu of types of crimes has been developed in the Tables section to increase the ease of entering the information. Therefore, Select the Tables tab, highlight RNG, and click OPEN.
  • A white screen should appear and listed across the top are specific headings similar to the ones on the top of your datasheet.
  • Drop to the end of the record list by either scrolling to the bottom or clicking the >* button, located towards the bottom of your screen. Once you have reached this spot, begin entering the information in the row shown as all zeros. The computer will automatically recognize this as a new record and the blank row of zeros will drop below where you are importing.

It is also important for the typist to understand that the records are recorded in sequential order according to the bill number. Any time the window is closed, the computer will sort the saved records in order. This is true when a sort has been applied as well. The records were not deleted, but moved into correct order.

Also, Bill # and Last Bill # are programmed with default settings. If you do not fill in the entire box with numbers, a warning message will appear. Click OK and check your data. There is most likely a typing error.

When you have finished entering one sheet, go to FILE on the toolbar and then choose Save. It is very important that you save frequently to safeguard your work. Also, write the date and your initials on the sheet so it can be identified when that the work was finished and by whom it was entered.

 

  1. How To Use The Random Number Generator

Project staff, with help from technical support, have developed a computer application called the Random Number Generator (RNG). This Macro uses the ending cluster number for a given month as the basis for selecting 10% of the material to be retained. It then creates list of randomly selected numbers which we use to create the datasheet and sample for a given month. The following is a list of directions on how to use the RNG.

  • From the Program Manager Screen, choose Excel.
  • From File chose Open.
  • Listed there are the RNG workbooks related to corresponding databases. Chose the one that is correct for the year you want to enter.
  • When you open an RNG workbook you should see a dialogue box called Microsoft Excel. Choose Enable Macros. Without choosing this box, you will not be able to run the RNG.
  • Find the correct month and in the cell below it enter the last cluster number you obtained.
  • Make sure you are flush with the top and left hand side of the screen. There you will see a gray box labeled Random Number Generator. This is the actual macro. Before you click on this, become aware of the three columns of numbers below it. You will notice that if you read across, each month has a corresponding number. Note the number for the month you are entering.
  • Click on the gray Random Number Generator box. You will then see a successive series of four boxes. Click on OK in the first box asking for a starting number. It will always be 1. In the next box enter the last cluster number. Following that enter 10 in the next box. This really stands for 10%; the designated amount for retention. And finally enter the number you obtained in the step above that corresponds to the correct month.
  • The computer will then create a random list of numbers under the correct month to the right of the gray box. Find the month you are working on and highlight the entire column; starting where the RNG has placed the numbers. Do not include the month-year and ending cluster number because the sort will not work.
  • Choose Data from the tool Bar. Then choose sort A-Z. This means that the computer will sort the numbers in ascending order.
  • When this is finished you have your list. All that remains is to print this month alone on a sheet. To do this, highlight the entire column, including the month and the ending cluster number this time, along with the newly sorted numbers.
  • From File Choose Print Area. The click on Set Print Area. This selects the month that is highlighted for printing.
  • Re-open File again. This time choose Print. When the gray dialogue box appears, choose Selection. And then OK. The computer will then print out just selected month. When printing is finished, follow the steps above except this time choose, Clear Print Area. When that is finished, from the File toolbox, choose Save and you have successfully completed use the RNG.
  1. Creating the Datasheet For the Random Number Sample
  2. Using the numbers created on the Random Number Generator printout for your month, retrieve the clusters with the same numbers from the box. Place the clusters in numerical order. Once you have done this you are ready to fill out the datasheet with the needed information. Accuracy is essential because this sheet will be used to enter this information into the database.

    Using the sheet given to you by your supervisor, cross out the existing headings on the dittos and create new ones. Follow the example in Appendix (B). From left to right the headings should read, Cluster #, Bill #, 1st Bill #, Last Bill # , Last Name, First Name, Middle, Alias, and Charge.

    A. Bill # (year/month)

    Starting with the first cluster number chosen for that month, enter the data under the correct headings. The Bill # is a code for the year and the month that the charge occurred in. For example, if you are entering data from the month of March in 1950, then the Bill # should be written on the sheet as 5003. Basically, use the first two digits to represent the year and the last second two numbers to represent the twelve months of the year (i.e. 01=January, 12=December)Since you are doing datasheets for one particular month, this column should remain the same.

    B. 1st Bill #

    The 1st Bill # refers to the blue indictment number on the front of the document and any related charges. First, if the blue number is anything less than a four digit number, meaning anything below 1000, then zeros should be entered in front of the number to make it four digits. For example, if the blue indictment number is 345, then the 1st Bill should read 0345-. The dash following the four digit number is a reference to related charges. If the bill is alone in the cluster, with NO related consecutive charges, then it should be listed as a zero. However, if the cluster contains related charges that follow consecutively after that indictment number, then after the dash you should write a 9. Therefore, if bill 345 was clustered with bills 346 and 347, the 1st Bill # column should read, 0345-9.

    C. Last Bill #

    If there are related bills, you MUST fill in this column. Meaning, if you entered a 9 after the dash, then there are related bills that need to be entered here. Find the last bill that is related and its blue indictment number. As before, if the blue numbers are less than four digits, then enter zeros before them to make it a four digit number. So, using the example above, then the Last Bill # column should read, 0347.

    D. Last Name, First Name and Middle Initial

    The next three columns should be self explanatory. Enter the Last Name, First Name, Middle Initial, of the defendant listed on the top of the cluster. If there is more than one defendant on the bill of indictment, then they have to be listed on a separate line. However, they will have the same 1st Bill # and Last Bill # as all other defendants on the bill.

    E. Alias

    Finally, you must enter the charge that is listed on the bill. Most of these charges can be abbreviated to save space and time. For example, Assault and Battery can be listed as A&B. If there is more than one charge listed on the bill squeeze what you feel to be the most important charges in the space provided.

     

  3. Entering Information into Database from Randomly Selected Cases Data Sheets

Once the essential information has been transferred from the randomly selected Bills of Indictment documents onto the datasheet, the next step is to entering this information into the database. The datasheet was designed to follow the format of the database headings to make this process easy to follow. The trickiest part is getting the information entered correctly with as few mistakes as possible. The typist should have a background in general computer use such as mouse manipulation and general windows applications before beginning this process. The following is a map of window locations to get to the desired database screen.

  • From the "Program Manager" screen, choose Microsoft Access by double clicking (the left button on the mouse) on the icon.
  • From the gray box, highlight Courtfiles49-, then click on the OK button.
  • From the "Open" box, highlight by clicking on Courtfiles49, then click on OPEN.
  • In the next box labeled "Courtfiles49-: Database", there are two choices, Tables or Forms, in which you could enter the information from the datasheet. While either is acceptable, an extensive pull down menu of types of crimes has been developed in the Forms section to increase the ease of entering the information. Therefore, Select the Forms tab, highlight RNG, and click OPEN.
  • A green screen should appear and listed across the top are specific headings similar to the ones on the top of your datasheet. The far left hand column labeled "Cluster" should already be filled in. (This process is listed in the separate instructions for using the RNG Macro)

It is also important for the typist to understand that the records are recorded in sequential order, so once the information has been entered, that specific row will drop from sight on screen. It doesn?t mean that they have been lost.

 

 

Procedure for Selecting Sample Group C: Spectacular and Notorious Crimes

A third group of documents selected to be saved for permanent retention by the Philadelphia Criminal Court Records Sampling Project are those of a spectacular or notorious nature. Initially the Archives staff planned to identify cases of unique historic character by using the annual index of current event headlines appearing in the Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac. Volunteers and project staff surveyed the Bulletin Almanac and completed data sheets for each crime listed in the local chronology section from 1940 through 1977, when the Almanac ceased publication. [See Data Sheet for Sample Group C: Spectacular/Notorious Cases, included in Report for Phase III]. With volunteer assistants, we were also able to compile data sheets for all of the specific crimes mentioned in the annual reports of the District Attorney's Office for those years when reports were available: 1952-72 and 1982-83. Through these means we identified approximately 300 spectacular and notorious cases for the years 1940-1982. These represented a wide cross-section of activities which resulted in criminal charges and related documentation. Among them were activities in the criminal underworld; crimes committed against famous people; crimes against ordinary persons; daring crimes such as kidnaps and jailbreaks; arrests related to the civil rights movement and anti-war activism; charges related to race riots; drug possession and sale; and white-collar crime including graft in city departments. Additionally, the district attorney's office reports were particularly useful in highlighting cases which were important from the standpoint of crime-fighting, such as increases in arrests and convictions due to new legislation or technologies aimed at lawbreakers.

This approach did have several limitations. First, the Almanac did not continue past 1977. Moreover, the citations in the Bulletin Almanac and District Attorney's Office reports usually failed to include names of defendants which were necessary in order to locate the case in the docket indexes. Project staff did attempt to consult newspapers for the date given in the Almanac to locate names of defendants in some instances and could almost always locate the news coverage of the crime and obtain the defendant's name with minimal searching. Indeed, we found that the newspaper coverage was often quite comprehensive in listing the names of persons charged, so that, in the case of an investigation into a lottery ring in the early 1940s, the coverage yielded a list of several hundred names, almost all of which were then founded in the docket index for that year. We therefore built some time for conducting newspaper name searches into our estimate for collecting Sample Group C. Even so, the newspaper research was too time consuming for the staff to follow up every case listed in the Almanac and DA reports through newspaper research.

Another concern with Sample Group C was that it did not allow for the systematic compilation of information regarding individuals who were notorious in the crime world. Using suggestions from our advisory group, we investigated reports of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime as a source for compiling a list of names of individuals involved in organized crime in Philadelphia. We were fortunate to have the assistance of an individual who had conducted scholarly research on organized crime in Philadelphia who volunteered to scan the docket indexes for names or arrests which she was familiar with through her study for the years 1940-48. We designed a special worksheet to be used in collecting information on persons involved in organized crime and added the charges identified to the list of selected files. Similarly we received assistance from another researcher studying domestic abuse against women from 1940-1960 which led to the identification of files in which there was extensive testimony. These cases were also incorporated into the selected sample.

The most important modification that was made in the original "Spectacular and Notorious" identification model was to introduce more comprehensive definition of "spectacular and notorious crimes." The research in the newspaper sources and District Attorney's Office reports had provided us with a general overview of trends in crime so that project staff began to develop their own sense of what crimes were typical of the period and what crimes or charges were relatively unusual. Review of the annual reports of the Municipal Court also provided an overview of crime trends or changes in law or law enforcement which broadened our awareness of types of charges which were being brought against defendants.

We therefore decided to make direct and active use of the court dockets as a sampling tool. The dockets provided the most reliable and informative means we found to identify records by type of charge from 1940 up through the automation of the court docket in Philadelphia in 1968. The index volumes up through the year 1950 are housed in the City Records Center at 3101 Market Street. The indexes for the years 1951-1968 are housed at the Criminal Justice Center, Office of the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, 1301 Filbert Street (3rd Floor). The research method was comparable to that used for searching for Homicide/Manslaughter cases was used as explained in the sampling procedural manual, section B. It was done manually using worksheets for tabulating the data.

Staff devised a list of charges appearing in docket indexes which either appeared infrequently or which represented trends which needed to be more systematically and thoroughly documented than the random sampling selection provided for (See list below). Project staff and volunteers combed the docket indexes and compiled lists of cases in which these charges appeared for every year for which sampling has been completed (1940-1952). Cases of charges appearing on Part A of this list were sampled 100 percent. For charges appearing in Part B, which includes crimes which appeared more frequently, project staff were instructed to look for instances and record information to guarantee that we would have examples of documentation on each type of charge for each year sampled. We also instructed staff to record information on instances of these charges which appeared to have unusual characteristics such as the size of the case as indicated by the number of charges.

Additionally, we selected records for inclusion as "Spectacular and Notorious" on the basis of physical examination. Examples of files selected using this criteria would be any court case file containing photographs, exhibits from a trial, or clippings; incidents involving a large number of arrests or a large number of defendants; cases with extensive testimony; or cases which could otherwise be identified by characteristics identifiable on the face of the document. Defendants with addresses listed as institutions such as hospitals were included when they appeared.

Finally, appellant cases were segregated along with other files selected for permanent retention because they contained documentation generated later than the date of the original charge and had not yet fulfilled retention requirements.

Summary of Criteria for Selecting Spectacular and Notorious Cases:

    • Cases appearing in selected printed sources:

Index of current local events (Bulletin Almanac)

District Attorney's Office reports

Pennsylvania Crime Commission annual reports

    • Cases and crime figures identified by subject area specialists
    • Systematic search of docket indexes to identify cases on the basis of charge (See List)
    • Selection on the basis of physical examination of the records
    • Appellant (Appeals) cases

 

List of Cases included in the Spectacular & Notorious Sample Group

on the Basis of Charge

Part A: Identify cases for selection in sample whenever found:

Abandonment of Child

Arson

Assistance to voters

Bawd Money

Bigamy

Criminal Libel

Election Fraud

Extortion

Embezzlement

Embezzlement by Employee

False Impersonation of Officer

False Pretenses- Relief Case

Falsification of Public Records, Public Accounts, etc.

False Weight

Felonious Accept Bribe

Ferocious Dog

Fortune Telling

Fraudulent Conversion- Relief Case

Fraud -Written Instrument

Gambling on Baseball

Giving Poison with Intent to Murder

Giving False Alarm of Fire

Inciting Riot

Inciting Riot and Resisting Arrest

Larceny by Clerk

Libel

Malfeasance and Misfeasance

Nuisance

Nuisance- Peeping Tom

Obscene (Book, Photograph, Film, Phono Records, etc?.)

Obstructing Justice

Officer Bribe - Employee of Corporation

Perjury

Practicing [medicine, dentistry, homeopathy, real estate, architecture, etc.] without license

Prison Breach

Rape

Rescue of Prisoner

Unlawfully Selling Soft Drinks

Violation of Election Code

Violation of Pure Food Act

Workmen?s Compensation (Failure to take out for employees)

Violating Magistrates Act

Waste and Inefficiency in Department

Part B

The second half of this list includes the remaining types of charges that commonly appear. These should be considered of a Spectacular or Notorious nature if the case includes more that 5 bills of indictment against one defendant, there are multiple defendants, or the case possesses other characteristics which appear to be of an unusual nature.

Assault/Battery

A/B with intent to rape

A/B to ravish

A/B to commit sodomy

A/B resisting arrest

Adultery

Alcohol

Assignation

Book Making

Burglary

Carrying A Concealed Deadly Weapon (CCDW)

Check Fraud

Committing Crimes of Violence

Conspiracy

Conspiracy to Rob

Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor Child

Disorderly House

Drugs

Driving While Under the Influence (of Drugs or Alcohol, abbreviated "DUI")

False Pretenses

Forgery

Fornication and Bastardy (F&B)

Fraudulent Conversion

Failing to Stop and Render Assistance (Hit and Run)

Gaming House

Indecent Exposure/ Open Lewdness

Larceny

Lottery

Male Bawd

Malicious Mischief

Neglect to Support Child/Wife

Operating Auto Without Expressed Consent of Owner

Pool Selling

Possession of Burglary Tools

Prostitution and Assignation

Receiving Stolen Goods (RSG)

Sodomy

Solicitation to Commit Sodomy

Taking Female Child with Sexual Intent

 

Segregating Notes of Testimony

To segregate notes of testimony associated with the bills of indictment selected for permanent retention, use a printout of cases selected for the given year you are working on. For example:

ListAll 1949, ListAll 1950, etc.

Beginning on page 1 of the printout look through the boxes of Notes of Testimony to see if you can find notes of testimony that correspond with the numbers on the list.

When you find notes of testimony from the cases listed on the printout, mark the bill number appearing on the printout with a letter "T". This is important because this is the only way the records center staff has of knowing that testimony is available and that it was transferred to the Archives for permanent retention.

Try and find a helper to work with you to read the numbers off the list and mark the "T" while you search through the boxes; the work goes faster.

Remove the notes and file in sequential order in records cartons. Make sure as you place them in the new box that you keep them in sequential order and that all the folders are facing the same way.

As the boxes fill up, attach paper labels indicating inclusive month/year and inclusive bill numbers. For example:

1950 Jan. 1030 to

1950 Mar. 833

Don?t fill the boxes too tight; you may have to interfile something later.

 

Retrieving Testimony in the Files

Often there will be variations in how the name and/or charge appears on the printout and the information on the notes or how the notes are filed in the box.

Hint: Look for both number and name. Don?t search by number only. Sometimes the notes are filed under a different bill number than the one that appears on your list because it was filed under the number of an associated case.

You will also find that there are cases that have additional defendants besides those appearing on your printout, or that there are more charges. Put the notes of testimony for these in "corrections" pile and make the corrections in the database as you finish searching each box.

 

Selecting Files for Permanent Retention Based on Physical Examination of Notes of Testimony

You will also find notes of testimony for cases that need to be added to the selected sample but which are not on the list because of mistakes in the index or other reasons. Examples include:

    • Murder or Homicide cases (The index we used has inaccuracies and omissions.)
    • Appealed Cases (PCHA). These are cases in which there were additional proceedings after the case originally brought before the court. For example: A person was originally charged with a crime in 1950, but appealed the case in 1955 and again in 1980. We keep appealed cases because they contain things less than 50 years old and therefore have not yet fulfilled their retention requirements.
    • Cases where there are notes of testimony that are unusually good documents. For example: a common charge, such as prostitution or arson, lottery, etc where there is extensive testimony, or more testimony that you usually find for that kind of charge.
    • Also, look for things like photos, clippings, "exhibits", evidence, etc., that add to the quality of documentation

To add information on cases that you?ve selected while going through the boxes of notes but which are not on the list:

Keep these in an "addition" pile as you go through each box of notes of testimony. (Remember you will also have a "corrections" pile as explained above.) It is easiest to enter the information on both the newly selected cases and the corrections as soon as you finish each box.

Enter the data as follows: For the newly selected cases based on physical examination of the Notes of Testimony, enter the case in the "Spectacular/Notorious table for that year.

Important: In the column for "Source" enter "Exam-NT". This lets us know: (1) the case was selected on the basis of physical examination of notes of testimony; and, more importantly, we need to go and find the associated bill or bills of indictment from the case and pull those too.

Other Comments/Suggestions

Box labeling of Sampled Notes of Testimony: On one corner of the box label, consecutively number the boxes as you complete them, i.e.,

1950 NT#1

1950 NT#2

1950 NT#3

This makes it easier to handle the boxes when you are moving them around.

Use the special rubber stamps to stamp the boxes either: "Sampled: Hold for Permanent Retention" or "Sampled: Hold for Disposal under Retention Requirements."

What to do with boxes of notes after you are done pulling the "selects". The boxes of non-selected records goes back to the records center for storage until disposal under the retention schedule. Stack the boxes of non-selected stuff in piles in order and preferably on a dolly to assist the records center staff.

Transfer the files selected for permanent retention to the Archives as directed by the Archives stack supervisor.