Original jurisdiction, Miscellaneous Docket No. 1750, petition for writ of habeas corpus, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel. Henry Paylor v. Dr. John W. Claudy, Warden, Western State Penitentiary. Petition denied, without prejudice.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE
Relator, Henry Paylor, has petitioned this Court, as a matter of original jurisdiction, for a writ of habeas corpus seeking his release and discharge from the Western State Penitentiary.The reasons assigned may be summarized as follows:
Relator was arrested May 5, 1944. He was indicted; an attorney was appointed by the court to represent him; and after trial he was convicted and sentenced on June 13, 1944 upon the following charges: Rape. (sentence: find 6 1/4c; costs; 7 1/2 to 15 years from May 5, 1944); Robbery, receiving stolen goods. (fine 6 1/4c; costs; 5 to 10 years from expiration of sentence for rape); according to the petition, defendant was also sentenced to pay a fine of 6 1/4c; pay costs; imprisonment 2 1/2 to 5 years, to begin and take effect at expiration of above sentence.
Relator avers that he was deprived of his constitutional right to be present in court at the selection of the petit jury; that no member of his race was permitted to sit in his case; that he was tried on four separate indictments without his consent or that of his counsel; that he was made to stand trial without the jury or the defendant hearing the indictments read in court; that the judge brought to the attention of the jury petitioner's past record in such a manner as virtually to state that petitioner was guilty; that part of his sentence was modified when he was brought before the court and his sentence doubled in case No. 2, making it from
to 20 years instead of 5 to 10 years, which was done without notice to him or to his counsel and without knowledge on his part of what was taking place.
Some of the above averments may raise substantial questions of fact.
The writ of habeas corpus is regarded as the greatest and most important remedy known to the law. It is the precious safeguard of personal liberty. There is no higher duty than to maintain it unimpaired. It is a civil remedy rather than a criminal proceeding regardless of whether the prisoner is detained under civil or criminal process. For a review of the origin and history of the writ and its issuance and use see cases cited in 39 C.J.S. p. 421 et seq.; 25 American Jurisprudence p. 139 et seq.
This Court possesses and frequently has taken original jurisdiction in applications for writs of habeas corpus. Such applications in recent years have prodigiously increased both in number and scope. Their consideration has resulted in great burden upon the Supreme Court which seriously interferes with its primary function of review.
While this Court possesses original jurisdiction in habeas corpus, such jurisdiction is not exclusive. It is concurrent with that of the Superior Court and the Courts of Common Pleas. The Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia has concurrent general jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus : Act of 1837, April 4, P.L. 377, sec. 2, 17 PS 502. In specified situations the following courts also have jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus in aid of their jurisdiction: Orphans' Court, Act of June 7, 1917 P.L. 363, sec. 9 [p], [q], as amended, 20 PS 2254; the Allegheny County Court, Act of May 5, 1911 P.L. 198 sec. 6, subds. [a-d] as amended, 17 PS 626; the Municipal Court, Act of 1913, July 12, P.L. 711, sec. 16, as amended, 17 PS 699; see
jurisdiction in extradition proceedings, Act of July 8, 1941 P.L. ...