UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
August 16, 1948
The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOLLMER
Petitioner, now a prisoner at United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, seeks a writ of habeas corpus alleging under oath in his petition that:
' * * * he was coerced into entering a plea of guilty, to a crime that he never committed, (sic) coercion was or consisted of threats involving petitioner or connecting petitioner with many other crimes, having been committed (sic) in and around Wheeling, West Virginia, petitioner was not interested into entering a plea of guilty; instead petitioner wanted a trial by a jury, as cited in Article #6, United States Code, petitioner was denied a trial by a jury when the Assistant United States Attorney, Mr. Wayne T. Brooks, and an Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation Department, administered said coercion (sic)
'Petitioner did not have assistance of counsel, nor have an opportunity (sic) to consult any counsel prior to entering plea, petitioner had no one to defend him from the coercion and illegal influence exerted by aforementioned Court officials:'
Because of these allegations it was deemed advisable to hold a hearing to which was summoned, at considerable expense to the Government and loss of time to the individuals, four witnesses, an Assistant United States Attorney, a Chief of Police (a former F.B.I. Agent), a Chief Deputh Sheriff, and a city detective, all of whom were obliged to travel from West Virginia. As a result of this hearing, it is unmistakably clear that there is no merit or truth whatsoever in petitioner's allegations. This case is a glaring example of the presently too frequent abuse of the time honored writ.
The record at the time of arraignment and at the time of sentence is replete with evidence of Judge Baker's careful study of, interest in the case, and care to protect the rights of this defendant and his co-defendant.
There is no justification for the allegation of coercion at the jail. The Assistant United States Attorney accused by him never interviewed him at the jail. This is verified by the other three witnesses who were present at the interview to which he made reference. To those three at this interview he readily admitted the theft and transportation of the car. No promises were made to him. As a matter of fact, we have been unable to find any suggestion of coercion but even assuming such to have existed prior thereto, it would have been completely neutralized by the court's treatment of the case.
An alleged alibi referred to by him at the hearing was never mentioned to any of them or to the court in spite of the full opportunity he had throughout. This is quite evidently an afterthought concocted during his subsequent incarceration. Nor would this, in any event, be a proper subject of habeas corpus.
There was no denial of due process involved in the proceedings and the petition for writ of habeas corpus must be denied. The rule to show cause is dismissed.