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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. KEIFFER v. CERAUL. (12/28/56)

December 28, 1956

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. KEIFFER, APPELLANT,
v.
CERAUL.



Appeal, No. 12, Oct. T., 1957, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Sept. T., 1956, No. 60, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel. William F. Keiffer v. Thomas Ceraul, Warden, Northampton County Prison. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Gus Milides, for appellant.

Bernard V. O'Hare, Assistant District Attorney, and Clinton Budd Palmer, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Woodside

[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 512]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.

William F. Keiffer is serving a sentence of two years in jail imposed by an alderman of Bethlehem, Northampton County, on a plea of guilty to a charge of assault and battery. After being committed to jail, Keiffer filed a writ of habeas corpus, claiming that the alderman had no authority to sentence him, and that he was therefore being illegally detained. The Court of Common Pleas dismissed the writ, holding

[ 182 Pa. Super. Page 513]

    that the Act of May 1, 1861, P.L. 682, a local act extended to Northampton County by the Act of March 30, 1864, P.L. 134, gave the alderman, whose powers are the same as a justice of the peace, authority to impose the sentence. Keiffer appealed to this Court.

The Act of 1861, supra, provides inter alia as follows:

"Section 1. That the several justices of the peace of the counties of Erie and Union be and are hereby authorized to hold monthly courts, with jurisdiction to hear and determine, in the manner hereinafter provided, the several offenses and misdemeanors in the 30th, 31st, 44th, 46th, 69th, 72d, 97th, 103d, 112th, 140th, 148th and 152d sections of the act of the 31st day of March, 1860, entitled 'An act to consolidate, revise and amend the penal laws of this commonwealth.'" (42 PS ยง 392)

"Section 2. Whenever any person shall be brought before a justice, on a warrant issued by said justice, founded on the oath or information of the party aggrieved, or of some one acting for the party aggrieved, the complaint or information shall be fully read aloud in the hearing of the defendant or party accused; and if the defendant shall plead guilty to the charge against him, the justice shall proceed to inquire into the circumstances of the case, so far as he shall think best for a proper understanding of the defendant's guilt, and shall proceed to pass sentence upon the defendant; which sentence shall have the full force and effect of a sentence ...


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