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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. ROUZER v. CLAUDY. (04/12/55)

April 12, 1955

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. ROUZER, APPELLANT,
v.
CLAUDY.



Appeal, No. 267, Oct. T., 1954, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Blair County, Jan. T., 1952, No. 173, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel. Sewell W. Rouzer, Jr. v. John W. Claudy, Warden, Western Penitentiary. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Sewell W. Rouzer, Jr., appellant, in propria persona.

Park H. Loose, District Attorney, Frank B. Warfel, Assistant District Attorney, Frank P. Lawley, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, and Frank F. Truscott, Attorney General, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Ross

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 107]

OPINION BY ROSS, J.

The relator, Sewell W. Rouzer, Jr., filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County. A rule to show cause was issued by the court and, after argument at which relator was represented by counsel, the rule was discharged and the writ refused. Relator has appealed to this Court.

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 108]

The undisputed facts which govern disposition of this appeal are as follows: On July 29, 1948 Rouzer was committed to the Blair County jail charged with commission of several offenses unrelated to those for which he is now serving time in Western Penitentiary. On September 30, 1948 he signed a plea of nolo contendere with respect to the aforementioned offenses; but later, on November 15, 1948, when he appeared in open court to be heard on the plea, relator requested and was granted permission to withdraw it. He was remanded to jail to await trial.

On November 20, 1948, before being brought to trial for the offenses allegedly committed prior to July 29, 1948, relator escaped from the Blair County jail and on that date committed other criminal offenses. He was apprehended and returned to the Blair County jail on November 27, 1948. On December 20, 1948 Rouzer pleaded guilty to prison breach, receiving stolen goods, larceny and burglary, all of which crimes were alleged to have been committed on November 20, 1948. For prison breach relator was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for a term of not less than one nor more than two years "from date of commitment, July 29, 1948". Two sentences for larceny and receiving stolen goods and one for burglary, larceny and receiving stolen goods were imposed at the same time, and each of these sentences provided that it should "run consecutively" with the next preceding sentence or sentences. The cumulative result is that Rouzer is serving a term of not less than twelve nor more than twenty-six years computed from July 29, 1948. It would appear that no disposition was ever made of the offenses which relator was alleged to have committed prior to July 29, 1948 and for which he was originally incarcerated.

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 109]

Rouzer's principal contention - and the only cognizable matter in his petition - is that the sentencing judge erred in directing that the sentence for prison breach imposed on December 20, 1948 be computed from July 29, 1948. The law, the court below, the district attorney and the attorney general are with the relator on this contention. There was error. Unfortunately for Rouzer, however, the error worked to his advantage and it must now be corrected.

Section 1 of the Act of May 28, 1937, P.L. 1036, 19 PS sec. 894, provides, inter alia: "from and after the passage of this act, all sentences for criminal offenses of persons who at the time sentence is imposed are held in custody in default of bail, or otherwise, shall begin to run and be computed from the date of commitment for the offense for which said sentence shall be imposed..." For prison breach and the other offenses committed on November 20, 1948 the "date of ...


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