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UNITED STATES EX REL. HUNTT v. RUSSELL

May 23, 1968

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Robert Bruce HUNTT, H-6123,
v.
Harry E. RUSSELL, Warden



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD, III

 This is a petition by a state prisoner for a writ of habeas corpus. The relator has exhausted his state remedies. Commonwealth v. Huntt (Delaware County, March 15, 1967), aff'd mem. 210 Pa.Super. 741, 231 A.2d 315 (1967).

 The relator, Robert Bruce Huntt, was apprehended in Baltimore, Maryland, on the early morning of March 8, 1966, while riding in an automobile driven by one Robert Weaver. In the partially opened trunk of the automobile, which belonged to Huntt, was a safe taken the previous evening from the West Philadelphia Decorating Company, Millbourne, Pennsylvania. After two extradition hearings, on June 2 and June 20, 1966, Huntt and his co-defendant Weaver were finally returned to Pennsylvania where they stood trial in Delaware County on October 13, 1966. Huntt was not represented by counsel at either of the two extradition hearings.

 Court-appointed counsel, Arnold Rubin, Esquire, was assigned to represent Huntt sometime between October 4 and October 13. The first time Huntt conferred with his counsel was for a short period (according to the relator, ten minutes) on the day of the trial, in the courtroom. However, Rubin had access to the Public Defender's files and had discussed the case with the Public Defender's office before the trial.

 Before the Commonwealth opened its case, Weaver changed his plea from not guilty to guilty in open court and before the jury. On October 14, 1966 the jury found Huntt guilty of burglary, larceny and conspiracy. Huntt was sentenced to two to four years imprisonment by the trial judge; Weaver received a one to three-year sentence, later reduced to eleven and a half to twenty-three months.

 The relator argues that his incarceration violates his constitutional rights for the following reasons:

 1) that the failure to provide him with counsel at the two extradition hearings violated his rights under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, including the right to travel; the privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and its protection of the right to travel; the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment; and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment;

 2) that counsel at his trial was so inadequate and ineffective as to violate due process under the Fourteenth Amendment;

 3) that the fact that he was given a sentence harsher than that accorded his co-defendant, who pleaded guilty, constituted a denial of equal protection and the imposition by the Commonwealth of an unconstitutional condition on his right to a trial by jury; and

 4) that his co-defendant's change of plea to guilty in the presence of the jury so prejudiced his case as to violate due process.

 I. EXTRADITION

 Illegal extradition does not afford a basis for relief by way of habeas corpus. United States ex rel. Kelly v. Fullam, 224 F. Supp. 492 (E.D.Pa.1963); United States ex rel. Owens v. Russell, 260 F. Supp. 638, (M.D.Pa.1966). The Supreme Court has stated that "the power of a court to try a person for crime is not impaired by the fact that he has been brought within the court's jurisdiction by reason of 'forcible abduction.'" Frisbie v. Collins, 342 U.S. 519, 522, 72 S. Ct. 509, 511, 96 L. Ed. 541 (1952). Here, the relator complains of a lack of counsel at extradition. But if "forcible abduction" for trial is no violation of due process, lack of counsel on extradition certainly is not.

 Whether the failure of Maryland to provide counsel at extradition is structured as a deprivation of the right to travel, or a denial of equal protection to those who cannot afford to pay for counsel, or a violation of the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment, the petition must fail in this regard.

 
"* * * due process of law is satisfied when one present in court is convicted of crime after having been fairly apprized of the charges against him and after a fair trial in accordance with constitutional procedural safeguards. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires a court to permit a guilty person rightfully convicted to escape justice because he was ...

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