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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WRIGHT v. DAY. (07/21/55)

July 21, 1955

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WRIGHT, APPELLANT,
v.
DAY.



Appeal, No. 6, Feb. T., 1955, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, May T., 1954, No. 516, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel. Eugene Wright v. Charles G. Day, Warden, State Penitentiary. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Nicholas R. Degillio, for appellant.

Louis G. Feldmann, District Attorney, with him Jonathan C. Valentine, First Assistant District Attorney, and Robert J. Hourigan, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ. (gunther, J., absent).

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 338]

OPINION PER CURIAM

Relator presented a petition for writ of habeas corpus to the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County on March 31, 1954.

In his petition relator alleged (1) that he was arrested without a warrant and unduly detained before he was given a preliminary hearing; (2) that he entered his pleas and was sentenced behind closed doors; (3) that his conviction and sentences were brought about by cruel and unusual punishment; (4) that he had waived a major fundamental right, to wit, the right to be represented by counsel; (5) and that the court lost jurisdiction of relator by sanctioning the illegal actions of the police officers, by disregarding his constitutional rights, and by taking advantage of a bewildered and unskilled petitioner.

Answers were filed by the warden of the Eastern State Penitentiary and the District Attorney of Luzerne County.

A hearing was held on April 20, 1954, before Judge LEWIS in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County. Relator was present with counsel and testified. After an extensive hearing, Judge LEWIS discharged the rule to show cause and dismissed the petition. Relator has appealed to this Court.

The trial record and the record in the habeas corpus proceeding disclosed that relator was given every possible consideration in the Court of Oyer and Terminer and in the Court of Common Pleas, and there has been no denial of due process or other infringement of his constitutional rights.

Relator was charged in twenty-two bills of indictment, in the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Luzerne

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 339]

County, with burglary and larceny, and in one bill with arson. The court record of the entry of the pleas of guilty by relator on June 9, 1953, shows that relator appeared in court, waived the right to a jury trial, and entered pleas of guilty to the crimes charged without the presentation of the indictments to the grand jury. It further appears that relator waived the right to counsel, and that such waiver was understandingly and voluntarily made. The habeas corpus proceeding is confirmatory of the fact that relator's pleas were voluntarily, freely, and intelligently entered, and that the absence of counsel did not result in the denial to relator of the essentials of justice.

In his opinion dismissing relator's petition, Judge LEWIS reviewed the facts and conclusively disposed of relator's contentions:

"A hearing was held in open court [June 9, 1953], Court Room No. 4, County Court House, at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, at which an official stenographer was present.

"Prior to the taking of any testimony petitioner was informed of the charges in each indictment... and he was asked by the Assistant District Attorney: 'Q.... you have already entered a plea of guilty on all these charges; is that correct? A. That is correct.'

"The following thereafter appears in the record: 'Q. You are willingly entering that guilty plea? A. Yes, sir. Q. Are you willing to waive the right of counsel? A. I am.'

"Thereupon the Assistant District Attorney specifically read the charges in indictments 178, 179, 194 June Sessions 1953, charging the crime of burglary and larceny, and again, to each separate indictment, he admitted his guilt.

"The Assistant District Attorney again asked:

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 340]

'Q. And in all those charges you don't desire to be ...


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