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COMMONWEALTH v. COOK (11/11/57)

November 11, 1957

COMMONWEALTH
v.
COOK, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 206, March T., 1957, from order of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Beaver County, June T., 1939, No. 6, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Paul James Cook. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

James B. Ceris, with him Edwin M. Wallover, for appellant.

Richard P. Steward, District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Arnold

[ 390 Pa. Page 517]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ARNOLD

In 1939 Paul James Cook committed a brutal triple murder, and was committed to the Farview State Hospital for the criminally insane. There he remained for some eighteen years. In September 1942 armed with wrenches, Cook and another patient attacked and assaulted the guards in an attempt to escape. On October 4, 1955 Cook and five other patients armed with shop weapons overcame the guards and escaped through a weakened wall beneath Cook's cell. Subsequently Cook was apprehended in East St. Louis, Illinois and was returned to Farview State Hospital on April 21, 1956 after an extradition proceeding which Cook contested. On August 6, 1956 John Shovlin, Superintendent of the Farview State Hospital, petitioned the court to issue an order discharging Cook from the Farview State Hospital into the custody of the Sheriff of Beaver County on the ground that cook had sufficiently recovered from his mental illness as to no longer need

[ 390 Pa. Page 518]

    the custodial care and remedial care of the hospital. Cook was transferred to the Beaver County Jail.

The District Attorney of Beaver County presented a petition for the appointment of a commission under Dence Act" of May 4, 1939, P.L. 42, 28 PS ยง 91b, proalleging that the petitioner believed Paul James Cook to be mentally ill and that care in a mental hospital is necessary for his benefit, and that there is a grave question as to whether or not the defendant should now be put to trial upon the charges of murder pending against him. James B. Ceris, Esq. and E. M. Wallover, Esq. were appointed as his lawyers for Cook. Each of them is a capable competent lawyer of many years experience in all the courts of Beaver County.

The Commission, appointed by the court, was composed of Dr. William Shapera, Dr. W. Glenn Srodes and E. Y. Calvin, Esq. as the attorney member of the Commission. Dr. Shapera and Dr. Srodes are physicians who have specialized in psychiatry in the City of Pittsburgh for many years, and their professional standing well known as leaders in the practice of psychiatry. Mr. Calvin is an able, careful and competent lawyer. Appellant acknowledged that the psychologists appointed were well qualified and of the highest standing.

The Commission met and held a hearing. Cook was present but did not testify. His lawyers were present as was also the District Attorney, the petitioner. The Commission took the testimony of police officers and staff at the county jail and some inmates of the jail. The testimony is that when they observed Cook his conduct conformed with that of a normal, mentally healthy individual. Two members of the state police force expressed the opinion that Cook did not have the mental capacity to warrant his ...


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