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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. PRESSENS v. SIEGLER ET AL. (11/14/50)

November 14, 1950

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. PRESSENS
v.
SIEGLER ET AL.



COUNSEL

Daniel Marcu, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Philip Richman and Richman & Richman, all of Philadelphia, for appellees.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, Arnold, and Gunther, JJ.

Author: Dithrich

[ 167 Pa. Super. Page 599]

DITHRICH, Judge.

In this habeas corpus proceeding relatrix, the mother of a baby boy born out of wedlock December 3, 1949, seeks to have his custody restored to her. The learned judge of the court below dismissed her petition and left the child in the custody of respondents. He was placed in their custody without the knowledge or consent of his mother when he was only eight days old. One Jacob Gordon, a married man having a wife and children, admittedly is the father of the child.

According to the testimony of the mother, and it is not contradicted by the father, he repeatedly told her before the birth of the child that she would have to place it somewhere for adoption, so as not to bring disgrace upon him and his family. After the birth of the child in Doctors Hospital, Philadelphia, he did not call at the hospital to see his offspring or relatrix but telephoned her, repeating his demands that the child be placed somewhere for adoption, even insisting upon an orphanage across the street from the hospital.

[ 167 Pa. Super. Page 600]

She had also been told by her parents that she could not bring her baby to their home in a small community in New Jersey because of the shame it would bring upon them. 'Bewildered' by the attitude of her parents and 'tormented' by the persistent demands of the father of her child, she finally, on the day before she was discharged from the hospital, executed a paper captioned 'Affidavit of Surrender and Consent.' It recited in part: 'Your affiant further avers that she is of the Protestant faith and makes this affidavit * * * for the purpose of placing said minor with persons of the Jewish faith for the purpose of adoption * * *.' The 'Affidavit' was prepared by an attorney for the father. He subsequently became attorney for the respondents. He testified that 'Mrs. Doline [who later turned out to be an aunt of Harold B. Siegler, the husband-respondent] was * * * to act as intermediary in the transfer of the child.'

The following day the child was turned over to Mrs. Doline, after relatrix had been discharged from the hospital. She then went to her parents' home in Moorestown, New Jersey. As soon as she was able to be up and around, she started looking for her baby and, upon contacting the attorney who had prepared the paper she signed in the hospital, she was told by him that he did not know 'where the people who had the child were,' although he had represented them from the time it was arranged to have the child ultimately placed with them for the purpose of adoption.

On February 1, 1950, relatrix commenced a habeas corpus proceeding, naming Mrs. Doline as defendant. When the case first came on for hearing Mrs. Doline appeared, represented by counsel who now represents the Sieglers. She did not produce the child and, on advice of counsel, refused to say to whom she had given the child. Mrs. Siegler admitted that she knew that Mrs. Doline had refused to tell where the child was, and that

[ 167 Pa. Super. Page 601]

    she knew that the mother was searching for it. It was not until April 17, 1950, when ordered to do so by the court, that Mrs. Doline disclosed who had the child. This present proceeding was then immediately instituted. At the hearing counsel for respondents admitted that 'we * * * avoided giving him [attorney for relatrix] information as to the ...


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