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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SWANN v. SHOVLIN (09/27/66)

decided: September 27, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SWANN, APPELLANT,
v.
SHOVLIN



Appeal from order of Superior Court, Feb. T., 1965, No. 14, affirming order of Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County, April T., 1964, No. 75, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Charles Swann v. John P. Shovlin, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Charles Swann, appellant, in propria persona.

David M. Boyd, District Attorney, for appellee.

Burton R. Laub, for amicus curiae, submitted a brief.

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

[ 423 Pa. Page 27]

In 1949, relator, Charles Edmond Swann, was tried in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Westmoreland County and convicted of assault and battery, aggravated assault and battery, and assault and battery with intent to kill. As a result, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 3 to 7 years and transferred to Western State Penitentiary for confinement.

Shortly thereafter, a petition was filed by the appropriate prison authority in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Westmoreland County averring that relator was suffering from a psychiatric disorder which required

[ 423 Pa. Page 28]

    his removal to an institution for the mentally ill.*fn1 Acting on the petition, the court appointed two physicians to inquire into relator's condition.*fn2 The physicians, after examination, reported to the court that relator suffered "from a psychosis, possibly paranoid type schezophrenia [sic] with mental deficiency" and recommended treatment and confinement in a psychiatric institution. On the basis of the report and recommendation of the examining physicians, the court entered an order committing relator to Farview State Hospital where he remains confined.*fn3

On March 31, 1964, relator filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County challenging his continued confinement. The petition alleged both present competency and irregularities in the procedure by which relator was committed to Farview as grounds for relief.*fn4 Pursuant to § 351 of The Mental Health Act of 1951,

[ 423 Pa. Page 29]

Act of June 12, 1951, P. L. 533, as amended by the Act of August 14, 1963, P. L. 895, § 3, 50 P.S. § 1241 (Supp. 1965), the court transferred the petition for disposition to the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County, "the common pleas court of the county where . . . [relator] is detained." The latter court summarily dismissed the petition, refusing to entertain it for failure to comply with "the minimum standards set forth in the Rules of Court of ...


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