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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. MANNING v. RUNDLE (06/24/66)

decided: June 24, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. MANNING, APPELLANT,
v.
RUNDLE



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 65-11957, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Calvin Manning v. A. T. Rundle, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Calvin Manning, appellant, in propria persona.

Henry T. Crocker and Richard A. Devlin, Assistant District Attorneys, and Richard S. Lowe, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 422 Pa. Page 298]

This is an appeal from a denial by the Court of Common Pleas, without a hearing, of a petition for habeas corpus. On March 1, 1960, relator pleaded guilty to murder generally, while represented by two Court-appointed counsel. He was sentenced to ten to twenty years in prison after the Court en banc fixed the crime at second degree murder.

The facts of the homicide were as follows:

On August 28, 1959, while serving a burglary sentence in the Eastern State Penitentiary, relator became involved in an altercation with a fellow convict in the exercise yard and killed him. When he was interrogated by the prison authorities concerning the killing, he signed a written statement in which he admitted the stabbing but said that immediately prior to the stabbing he and the victim had been fighting, and that the fight started when the victim "smashed me in the mouth". This somewhat exculpatory statement, which he calls a confession, was admitted in the hearing or trial before the Court en banc after he had pleaded guilty to the charge of murder, while, we repeat, he was represented by counsel. Moreover, he took the witness stand and repeated exactly his aforesaid written statement.*fn*

Relator alleges three infringements of his Constitutional rights: (1) Failure of the prison authorities to inform relator of his right to counsel before signing

[ 422 Pa. Page 299]

    a confession; (2) "coercion" by prison officials in obtaining his confession; and (3) a denial of counsel at the preliminary hearing before the justice of the peace.

Relator's first contention is without merit. His conviction became final prior to Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478. We have held that Escobedo would not be given retroactive application. Commonwealth v. Negri, 419 Pa. 117, 213 A.2d 670; Commonwealth ex rel. Swilley v. Maroney, 420 Pa. 419, 218 A.2d 242. As to finality, see Commonwealth ex rel. Keller v. Maroney, 419 Pa. 318, 214 A.2d 249; Commonwealth ex rel. Green v. Myers, 422 Pa. 294, 220 A.2d 789. See Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618; Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719, filed 6/20/66, 34 L.W. 4592.

Furthermore, relator's guilty plea in open Court while represented by counsel is a confession of guilt of the crime or crimes with which he is charged in the indictment and also constitutes a waiver of all non-jurisdictional defects and defenses. Commonwealth ex rel. Ward v. Russell, 419 Pa. 240, 213 A.2d 628; Commonwealth ex rel. Swilley v. Maroney, 420 Pa., supra; Commonwealth ex rel. Hobbs v. Russell, 420 Pa. 1, 215 A.2d 858; Commonwealth ex rel. Adderley v. Myers, 419 Pa. 536, 215 A.2d 624; Commonwealth ex rel. Sanders v. Maroney, 417 Pa. 380, ...


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