Appeal, No. 13, Feb. T., 1956, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Wyoming County, Oct. T., 19558 No. 78, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Carl Nagle v. Charles G. Day, Warden, State Penitentiary at Graterford. Order affirmed.
Charles F. G. Smith, for appellant.
Ray A. Gardner, District Attorney, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Carr, JJ.
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This is an appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Wyoming County refusing a writ of habeas corpus for the discharge of a prisoner who had pleaded guilty allegedly as the result of official coercion. On June 25, 1938, in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Wyoming County, Charles Nagle, the relator, signed pleas of guilty to indictments returned by the Grand Jury to Nos. 41, 42 and 43, January Term, 1938, and was sentenced to imprisonment in the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, where, by reason of repeated violations of a subsequent parole he is still confined. Of the three indictments, the first two charged him with breaking and entering the State Liquor Store at Meshoppen on the nights of November 5th and December 17, 1937 and taking and carrying away large quantities
[ 181 Pa. Super. Page 607]
of assorted liquors, and the third with having and receiving a stolen truck used to transport the stolen liquor.
On July 28, 1955 the relator applied to the Court below for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that at the time of his arrest and conviction he was illiterate, being able only to sign his name; that upon being arrested he was held incommunicado and thereby prevented from securing counsel for his defense; that he was beaten, threatened, and frightened by the arresting officer into signing confessions not read or explained to him; and that when the confessions had been thus unlawfully procured he was rushed into Court handcuffed and under heavy guard where he was again denied the benefit of counsel, required to plead guilty to the indictments in ignorance of their contents, and thereupon peremptorily sentenced to long imprisonment. President Judge FARR who had received the pleas in open Court and imposed the sentences years before, allowed a rule to show cause why the writ should not be issued, ordered the relator to be produced, heard his testimony and that of the arresting officers, and at the conclusion of the hearing, being unable to find any merit in the relator's allegations, discharged the rule and remanded him to the custody of the Warden, later filing a comprehensive opinion in which he discussed the evidence at length and cited the applicable law.
The record discloses that the relator, who was twenty-eight years of age at the time of his conviction and sentence, was not unfamiliar with criminal procedure. On February 7, 1927, while still in his teens, he had pleaded guilty to thirteen indictments in Luzerne County for highway robbery, burglary and larceny, and had been committed to the Pennsylvania Industrial School at Huntington. Again on June 3, 1929, less than six months after his release from that institution, he had
[ 181 Pa. Super. Page 608]
been convicted in Luzerne County of the larceny of an automobile, and on June 19, 1929 sentenced to imprisonment in the Eastern Penitentiary, where he remained until July 12, 1936. Needless to say, his previous experience was decidedly pertinent in determining whether he was aware of the gravity of the charges and competent to protect his ...