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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. HUDSON v. BURKE (03/16/54)

March 16, 1954

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. HUDSON
v.
BURKE



COUNSEL

Benjamin Hudson, in pro. per.

A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Asst. Dist. Atty., Michael von Moschzisker, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Richardson Dilworth, Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Ross, Gunther, Wright and Woodside, JJ.

Author: Woodside

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 242]

WOODSIDE, Judge.

Relator, Benjamin Hudson, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. After a hearing on the petition, at which the relator appeared, represented by counsel, the writ was refused. This appeal was then taken.

Relator is now serving a term of 35 to 70 years in the Eastern State Penitentiary for the crimes of armed robbery, burglary, operating automobiles without the consent of the owners, and carrying firearms without a license. He was tried for and convicted of these crimes before a judge and jury in the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia County. Sentence was imposed on February 13, 1941. Less than seven months before he had been released from the penitentiary after serving five years there.

Relator contends that his conviction was null and void because he was insane during the commission of the crimes, and during his trial and sentencing.

Neither the relator, nor his court-appointed counsel raised the issue of insanity or mental illness at the time of the trial in 1941. There is likewise no evidence that relator manifested any signs of insanity or mental illness at the time of trial and sentencing, unless the commission of these offenses would of themselves be considered such.

The relator seeks to base his allegations of insanity upon the following facts: On March 11, 1941, subsequent to his incarceration in the Eastern State Penitentiary, he was sent to its Department of Neuropsychiatry because of his destructiveness in his cell and his complaints of 'head pounding' and 'nervousness'. On April 22, 1942, over one year later, he was committed pursuant to a lunacy commission's order to the Farview State Hospital for the Criminal Insane. At that time he was found to have a 'psychosis with psychopathic personality.' On January 4, 1948 relator's

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 243]

    case was reviewed and it was found that he was then without psychosis and he was considered no longer in need of further care and treatment in the State Hospital. He was accordingly returned to the Eastern State Penitentiary on January 31, 1947, by court order.

It is well settled that 'in criminal, as well as other matters sanity is presumed. * * * The presumption of sanity, which is the normal condition of man, 'holds good, and is the full equivalent of express proof, until it is successfully rebutted.' ...


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