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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. TOTH v. MARONEY (06/24/66)

decided: June 24, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. TOTH, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1965, No. 288, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. George Toth v. James F. Maroney, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

George Toth, appellant, in propria persona.

Edwin J. Martin, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, 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

[ 421 Pa. Page 558]

This is an appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which, after a hearing, discharged relator's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The relator, George Toth, was accused of murdering his wife by plunging a knife into her back before two

[ 421 Pa. Page 559]

    witnesses. After the killing, but on that same day, he was arrested by the police and signed a confession of guilt, when he was not represented by counsel. He was indicted for murder and pleaded not guilty. After the Commonwealth had called eleven witnesses to testify, he withdrew his plea of not guilty and while represented by Court-appointed counsel entered a plea of guilty. He was found guilty of murder in the second degree and sentenced on March 11, 1959, to 10 to 20 years imprisonment. He did not appeal his conviction and sentence.

After serving more than 6 years of his sentence, he filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus, contending that he was denied due process of law. The lower Court, after a hearing at which relator was represented by Court-appointed counsel, discharged the petition.

Relator's contentions are completely without merit. He alleges that at the time he was questioned by the police and at the time of his trial, he did not understand the English language. Relator originally emigrated to Allegheny County from Hungary approximately 10 months prior to the murder and 17 months prior to his trial. He specifically contends that he was denied due process of law (1) when the Court failed to supply him with an interpreter so that he could effectively talk with his attorney and prepare a defense, (2) when the Court refused to have each question and answer interpreted for him, and (3) when the Court admitted into evidence a statement given by him to the police at a time when he was not represented by counsel.

Although relator was not fluent in the English language, he had a good knowledge of it. He understandingly communicated with his attorney during conferences. At his habeas corpus hearing, his ...


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