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COMMONWEALTH v. ONDA (02/24/54)

February 24, 1954

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ONDA, PETITIONER



Original jurisdiction No. 1933, Misc. Docket, Western District.

COUNSEL

Hymen Schlesinger, for defendant, filed the petition.

Honorable Henry X. O'Brien, Judge of the Court of Quarter Sessions, in propria persona, filed an answer.

James F. Malone, Jr., District Attorney, and Wendell Freeland and George H. Ross, Assistant District Attorneys, filed an answer for the District Attorney.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Stern

[ 376 Pa. Page 407]

OPINION AND ORDER OF THE COURT BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

Defendant, Andrew Onda, who was convicted in the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Allegheny County of violation of the State Sedition Act of 1919, re-enacted as part of The Penal Code of 1939 (Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, ยง 207), petitioned this court for a rule on the Commonwealth to show cause why his sentencing should not be deferred for a period of four months pending his treatment for a serious heart condition in the hospital of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York. A temporary stay having been granted in order to afford opportunity for consideration of the petition by the members of the court eligible

[ 376 Pa. Page 408]

    to participate therein, the court, as the result of such consideration, granted a rule on the trial Judge in the court below and the District Attorney to show cause why the sentencing of the petitioner should not be stayed pending his discharge from the hospital or until final disposition of the case of Commonwealth v. Nelson, 377 Pa. 58, 104 A.2d 133, should the Supreme Court of the United States grant review thereof. Answers have now been filed to said rule.

Because of manifest misconceptions entertained by the respondents to the rule it seems necessary to point out (1) the existence of the power exercised by this court; (2) the method employed in its exercise; (3) why it should be exercised in the present case.

(1) The existence of the power:

More than two centuries ago section XIII of the Act creating the Supreme Court of this Commonwealth (Act of May 22, 1722, 1 Sm. L. 131) provided that the court should "minister justice to all persons, and exercise the jurisdictions and powers hereby granted concerning all and singular the premises according to law, as fully and amply, to all intents and purposes whatsoever, as the Justices of the Court of King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, at Westminster, or any of them, may or can do." Thus the power of superintendency over inferior tribunals became vested in this court from the very time of its creation: Commonwealth v. Ickhoff, 33 Pa. 80, 81; Carpentertown Coal & Coke Co. v. Laird, 360 Pa. 94, 99, 61 A.2d 426, 428, 429. What were the "jurisdictions and powers" of the Justices of the Court of King's Bench thus conferred upon the Supreme Court? It is ...


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