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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. ROWLES v. MYERS (06/24/66)

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: June 24, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. ROWLES, APPELLANT,
v.
MYERS

Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, May T., 1965, No. 574, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. James R. Rowles v. David N. Myers, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

James R. Rowles, appellant, in propria persona.

Harold E. Sheely, Assistant District Attorney, and Richard C. Snelbaker, District Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 422 Pa. Page 197]

Appellant was convicted of first degree murder in a trial by jury, during which he was represented by appointed counsel, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He presently seeks to impeach that conviction on the ground, inter alia, that a constitutionally tainted confession, alleged to have been obtained in the absence of counsel and as the result of coercion, was admitted into evidence. We find no merit in appellant's complaint.

In Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719, 86 S. Ct. 1772 (1966), the Supreme Court of the United States held that the directions contained in Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S. Ct. 1758 (1964), and Miranda v. Arizona, 383 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), respecting the right to counsel at the pretrial stage of criminal proceedings are not to be given retrospective

[ 422 Pa. Page 198]

    application.*fn1 Appellant's trial having occurred prior to the decision in Escobedo, he may not predicate a claim to relief in reliance on that decision or the decision in Miranda v. Arizona, supra.

Accordingly, appellant had no absolute right to the assistance of counsel immediately upon his apprehension and arrest. Crooker v. California, 357 U.S. 433, 78 S. Ct. 1287 (1958); Cicenia v. La Gay, 357 U.S. 504, 78 S. Ct. 1297 (1958); Commonwealth ex rel. Mullenaux v. Myers, 421 Pa. 61, 217 A.2d 730 (1966).*fn2 As we have previously stated, "the absence of counsel at appellant's interrogation following his arrest may not be deemed violative of his Fourteenth Amendment rights unless he was 'so prejudiced thereby as to infect his subsequent trial with an absence of "that fundamental fairness essential to the very concept of justice."'" Commonwealth ex rel. Mullenaux v. Myers, supra at 65, 217 A.2d at 732 (Citations omitted). The present record does not suggest or support the conclusion of such prejudice. Cf. Commonwealth ex rel. Mullenaux v. Myers, supra.

Finally, with respect to appellant's challenge on the ground of coercion, the record reveals that no objection

[ 422 Pa. Page 199]

    was interposed to the admission of the confession at trial. Under the previous rulings of this Court, the failure to interpose a contemporaneous objection, in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, precludes a subsequent attack predicated on the admission of an allegedly tainted confession. Commonwealth ex rel. Mullenaux v. Myers, 421 Pa. 61, 63, 217 A.2d 730, 731 (1966), and cases cited therein. We find nothing in the record of this case which would justify a departure from the contemporaneous objection rule to permit the present challenge. The record amply supports the conclusion that no injustice will result by precluding the present attack.

We have considered the other contentions advanced by appellant and find them without merit.

Order affirmed.

Disposition

Order affirmed.


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