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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BOOKER v. MARONEY (03/14/67)

decided: March 14, 1967.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BOOKER, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1965, No. 747, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. James Booker v. Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, and James F. Maroney, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Joseph F. Weis, Jr., for appellant.

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

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

Author: Bell

[ 424 Pa. Page 395]

James Booker, defendant-relator, was arrested at about 2:00 A.M. on March 23, 1962, in Pittsburgh, and

[ 424 Pa. Page 396]

    was later charged with the murder of Thomas Clemens. On September 10, 1962, defendant-relator while represented by Court-appointed counsel, entered a plea of guilty to an indictment charging him with murder and voluntary manslaughter.*fn1 After a hearing by the sentencing Court to determine his guilt and the degree of his crime -- at which time, we repeat, he was represented by Court-appointed counsel -- he was convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than seven nor more than fourteen years. He is now serving that prison term.

On April 21, 1965, defendant-relator filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking a new trial because of alleged violations of several of his Constitutional rights in that (a) he did not have the benefit of counsel at either the coroner's inquest or at his hearing before a magistrate*fn2 and (b) he should have been acquitted on the ground of self-defense because he was compelled to use a knife against his victim, in order to protect or save himself from the victim's savage attack. A habeas corpus hearing was held, at which defendant-relator was again represented by Court-appointed counsel. The lower Court dismissed defendant-relator's petition and denied him a new trial, and from that Order defendant-relator has taken this appeal.

Assistance of Counsel

Defendant-relator contends on this appeal that in violation of his Constitutional right to due process of

[ 424 Pa. Page 397]

    law he was denied assistance of counsel as required by Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45, and Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52, because he ...


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