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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WARD v. RUSSELL (10/13/65)

decided: October 13, 1965.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WARD, APPELLANT,
v.
RUSSELL



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1964, No. 4674, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Columbus Ward v. Harry E. Russell, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Columbus Ward, appellant, in propria persona.

Gordon Gelfond and Joseph M. Smith, Assistant District Attorneys, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., First Assistant District Attorney, and James C. Crumlish, Jr., District Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs in the result. Mr. Justice Cohen dissents.

Author: Bell

[ 419 Pa. Page 241]

This is an appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County dismissing the petition of Columbus Ward for a writ of habeas corpus.

Ward was indicted for the murder of Mack McClelland Roots whom he killed by stabbing him several times with an ice pick. When Ward came to trial on January 9, 1961, the District Attorney certified that in his opinion*fn* the crime did not rise higher than second

[ 419 Pa. Page 242]

    degree murder. Ward, who was represented by an attorney, then pleaded guilty, and the lower Court after hearing evidence, including his confession which was not objected to, adjudged him guilty of murder in the second degree and sentenced him to 8 to 20 years in the Eastern State Penitentiary. No appeal from this judgment of sentence was ever filed.

On August 10, 1964, Ward filed in the Court below the present petition for habeas corpus. The lower Court did not take testimony but held a hearing only on the legal and Constitutional issues. Ward does not contend that he is innocent of the murder to which he pleaded guilty. He contends, inter alia, that he was denied due process of law (1) when he was interrogated by the police in the absence of counsel; (2) when he was given a preliminary hearing before a magistrate without representation by counsel, and (3) when his confession, which was made when unrepresented by counsel, was admitted into evidence at his trial after he pleaded guilty while represented by counsel.

Assuming that these statements are true, they do not amount to a denial of due process.

Under Pennsylvania law, a person accused of murder need not be provided ...


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