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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. TAYLOR v. KEENAN. (11/12/57)

November 12, 1957

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. TAYLOR, APPELLANT,
v.
KEENAN.



Appeal, No. 133, April T., 1957, from order of Court of Quarter Sessions of Somerset County, Feb. T., 1956, No. 41, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. William R. Taylor v. L.P. Keenan, Superintendent. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

William R. Taylor, appellant, in propria persona.

Frank A. Orban, Jr., District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Watkins

[ 184 Pa. Super. Page 508]

OPINION BY WATKINS, J.

The Court of Quarter Sessions of Somerset County dismissed relator's petition for writ of habeas corpus without a hearing. This appeal followed.

Relator was charged with several crimes, including forgery and passing forged checks which are the subject of this appeal. The information was dated April 17, 1956 on which date he was arrested, and at a hearing before a Justice of the Peace plead guilty, and in default of bail, was committed to the County jail.

On May 5, 1957 the relator entered a plea of guilty on bill of indictment No. 41, February Session, 1956 charging forgery and passing forged checks. The following endorsement appeared on the back of the bill of indictment. "May 5, 1957 the defendant within named, after being advised of my Constitutional right to be represented by counsel, voluntarily waive the right to counsel and also waive the finding of a True Bill by the grand inquest and enter my plea of 'guilty' to the within charge. The said plea of 'guilty' to have the same force and effect as if the same were entered in open court upon a bill of indictment regularly filed by the grand inquest."

[ 184 Pa. Super. Page 509]

Relator was thereupon sentenced by the lower court to undergo imprisonment in the Allegheny County workhouse for a period of not less than two years and not more than three years. The record discloses that the court corrected this sentence on June 4, 1956, within the term time, "by fixing the correct minimum period of incarceration", being simple imprisonment of not less than one and one-half years nor more than three years. Relator's petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleges denial of counsel, refusal to appoint counsel, and illegality of sentence imposed. The other complaints contained in his petition go to other indictments for which he was sentenced on the same day and have no place in this appeal.

There was an answer filed by the District Attorney in this case and after consideration of the petition and answer, the court below denied the writ without hearing. "But it would be absurd to suppose that the Legislature intended to direct the taking of testimony when there is no issue of fact to be decided or when the facts averred by relator, even if believed, are insufficient to warrant granting the writ of habeas corpus." Com. ex rel. Bishop v. Claudy, 373 Pa. 523, 527, 97 A.2d 54 (1953).

There is no allegation in relator's petition that he was innocent of the offense to which he entered his plea of guilty. He contends only that his constitutional rights were violated by denial of counsel and refusal to appoint counsel. He certainly attempts to impeach the court record which clearly discloses, over his signature, that he was advised of his constitutional rights to be represented by counsel. The District Attorney in his answer stated that the indictment, with the endorsement, was read to him and ...


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