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UNITED STATES EX REL. MATHIS v. RUNDLE

April 18, 1967

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Charles MATHIS
v.
Alfred T. RUNDLE, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution, Graterford, Pennsylvania



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOOD

 WOOD, District Judge.

 Relator, Charles Mathis, brings this habeas corpus petition alleging on several specific grounds that he is unconstitutionally incarcerated. *fn1" He principally contends four grounds for relief and argues further that if one ground considered alone is not sufficient to entitle him to a writ, then the total effect of the alleged deficiencies in his representation and trial establish that he did not receive due process of law.

 Specifically he alleges:

 1. He was denied the use of effective counsel because counsel who was not appointed until the same day as the trial did not confer with him before trial, did not adequately prepare the case and did not ask for a continuance either before the trial or during it when witnesses were not present.

 2. He was prejudiced by knowing use of perjured testimony by the prosecution.

 3. Prior convictions were introduced into evidence by the prosecution.

 4. He had no counsel at the preliminary hearing and was prejudiced as a result.

 5. The entire procedure against him violated due process of law.

 The undisputed facts are as follows: Relator was in a semi-private club on November 7, 1963, where there was gambling activity. He had an altercation with the prosecuting victim Spraggans which turned into a brawl. Relator stabbed the victim twice, once in the back and once directly below the chest, but he managed to give Mathis a thorough beating. Mathis was not arrested until April 22, 1964. Mathis's defense at trial was that the fight was precipitated by Spraggans and that he used a knife only in self-defense. Mathis is about 40 to 50 pounds lighter than the prosecuting victim.

 Mathis was brought before a magistrate on April 23rd and held without bail for trial. He was subsequently indicted on May 13th and tried on July 9th and 10th. He has remained continually in prison from the date of his arrest.

 While Mathis is presently serving back time for violation of probation, this is no bar to habeas corpus relief. He is officially classified as a convicted parole violator. This means that he has been compelled to serve all the time imposed on a previous sentence as a result of the present conviction although many months elapsed while he was free on probation. 61 Purdon's §§ 331.21a. See U.S. ex rel. Heacock v. Myers, 251 F. Supp. 773 (E.D.Pa. 1966), aff'd per cur. 367 F.2d 583 (3rd Cir. 1966). It is irrelevant that the state could have imprisoned him as a technical parole violator. At any rate, the Commonwealth has conceded that habeas corpus relief is appropriate. Therefore, we will proceed to the merits.

 Relator's contention that the trial was defective because evidence of two prior convictions was introduced is not well taken for either reason advanced. First, counsel stipulated that documentary proof of the convictions need not be made. There was and is no contention that Mathis was not twice convicted. The prosecution was prepared to prove the convictions. Secondly, the convictions were relevant to impeach Mathis's testimony. Their weight was for the trial judge. Smith v. United ...


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