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UNITED STATES EX REL. PETERS v. CARSON

December 7, 1954

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Harold PETERS, Complainant,
v.
President Judge Roy I. CARSON and John M. Good, Clerk of Courts, Washington County, Pennsylvania, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY

In this proceeding a person sentenced by a State Judge, after conviction in trial by jury of a criminal offense, brings action for damages against the Judge and the Clerk of the criminal branch of said court.

Jurisdiction is grounded in this court upon the Civil Rights Statutes, as amended, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1983, 1985, 1986.

 The action is premised on the failure of the sentencing judge to hear and determine a habeas corpus proceeding which had been sent via mail by the confined inmate plaintiff to the Clerk of the criminal court.

 Roy I. Carson is President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania, and President Judge of the Court of Oyer and Terminer and Court of Quarter Sessions of Washington County, Pennsylvania. 17 Pa.P.S. § 334.

 John M. Good, an elective office holder, is Clerk of the Court of Oyer and Terminer and Court of Quarter Sessions of Washington County, Pennsylvania. He is not clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania, and has no authority or connection with the Clerk of the civil branch of said court, who is known in Pennsylvania as the Prothonotary which is also an elective office. 17 Pa.P.S. § 1451.

 The matter comes before the court on defendants' motion to dismiss the action on the basis that the complaint states no cause of action upon which relief can be granted.

 Plaintiff, who is confined by state authorities as a parole violator, alleges that on July 29, 1954 he mailed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to John M. Good, Clerk of Courts, Washington County, Pennsylvania, with a check in the sum of $ 5.50 to cover filing fees; that no reply was received either from the Clerk or President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas; that no hearing date was fixed, and the matter not adjudicated.

 Judicial knowledge will be taken of the records of said court and the official positions of the respondents. Said records have been made part of the record in this proceeding, and identified as court exhibits.

 Plaintiff filed no proceeding with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the nature of a mandamus to compel the state court to proceed in the disposition of his petition.

 The authority for plaintiff to secure relief in the highest tribunal of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a court of original jurisdiction is well recognized and clearly chartered both by statute and legal construction.

 Article V, Section 3 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, P.S. confers upon the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania original jurisdiction of mandamus to courts of inferior jurisdiction within the state. Under the Act of June 8, 1893, P.L. 345, 12 P.S. § 1911 et seq., it is specifically provided that a writ of mandamus may be used to procure the enforcement of a public duty or to compel a judge of inferior jurisdiction to perform his duties. Commonwealth ex rel. Duff v. Keenan, 347 Pa. 574, 33 A.2d 244.

 The judges of the Supreme Court have full power and authority when, and as often as there may be occasion, to issue all remedial writs and processes. 17 Pa.P.S. § 48.

 It is well to observe that the instant plaintiff had filed a petition of habeas corpus on December 27, 1951 with the Prothonotary of the Common Pleas Court of Washington County. The proceeding appears to have been abortively terminated without any final disposition.

 On March 30, 1954, plaintiff filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Prothonotary of Washington County. Upon the date fixed for hearing, April 12, 1954, no persons appeared, and upon consideration of the papers filed, Judge Carson filed on opinion and order dismissing the said petition.

 In spite of the previous history of having filed two petitions for writs of habeas corpus with the office of Prothonotary of Washington County, the plaintiff asserts that he mailed the petition, upon which he now premises his ...


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