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UNITED STATES EX REL. SAVAGE v. RUNDLE

December 31, 1969

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Louis SAVAGE
v.
Alfred T. RUNDLE, Supt



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINBOTHAN

Before this Court is relator's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons stated hereafter the petition is denied.

The relator is presently serving a sentence of four to twelve years after a conviction for voluntary manslaughter in the State Correctional Institution, Graterford, Pennsylvania. His sentence was imposed after a general plea of guilty to a murder indictment and after an evidentiary hearing to determine the degree of guilt. *fn1" On a previous occasion I remanded the relator to the state courts for failure to exhaust his state remedies by treating his 'Motion for Removal' of a Post-Conviction Hearing Act petition as a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See United States of America, ex rel. Savage v. A. T. Rundle, Miscellaneous No. 3795, April 16, 1968. It now appears that the relator has exhausted his state remedies. *fn2"

 In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the relator alleges that his plea of guilty was not knowingly and intelligently entered; his continued detention by state authorities is alleged to be unlawful on any one of three theories. The relator first attacks the failure of the trial court to order a presentence investigation and psychiatric report into relator's background. Secondly, the relator alleges that in the Post-Conviction Hearing Act proceedings the court 'erred in failing to consider the Prison Classification finding of mental defectiveness'. Presumably relator contends that this Prison Classification finding made subsequent to his guilty plea establishes that his guilty plea was not or could not have been intelligently and knowingly entered. Finally relator contends that the Post Conviction Hearing Act Petition Court also erred in its refusal to order further psychiatric studies in its evaluation that relator had the requisite mental ability to enter a knowing and intelligent plea of guilty.

 By way of 'Supplemental Petition and Rebuttal', relator further asserts that Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 89 S. Ct. 1709, 23 L. Ed. 2d 274 (June 2, 1969) is dispositive in his favor of the central issue of whether the plea was voluntary. *fn3" There, the Court held that it was error for a state trial judge to accept a plea of guilty without an affirmative on the record demonstration that the plea was intelligently and voluntarily made with a full understanding of its consequences.

 The issues raised by the relator can be decided without an evidentiary hearing. An examination of all the state court records in relator's case reveals that the trial court had decided the issue of voluntariness of relator's guilty plea in accepting the plea. Furthermore, in the state collateral proceedings, an evidentiary hearing was held on whether the guilty plea was voluntary vel non. At this hearing, as at trial, relator was represented by counsel and was given an opportunity to present evidence and to testify. When relator appealed the denial of relief in the post-conviction proceeding, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania wrote a well reasoned opinion also denying relator any relief. In its opinion, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania commented on the evidence presented and applied the correct constitutional standards in rejecting relator's general and specific grounds. In a case such as this one, where an examination of all the state records indicates that issues have already been resolved against relator's contentions after a 'full and adequate hearing', a federal court is not obligated to hold an evidentiary hearing. Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 312-313, 83 S. Ct. 745, 9 L. Ed. 2d 770 (1963); United States ex rel. Rowles v. Myers, 407 F.2d 1332 (3d Cir. 1969); See also United States ex rel. Thomas v. Maroney, 406 F.2d 992 (3d Cir. 1969).

 The requirements of due process of the Fourteenth Amendment are that a plea of guilty be made voluntarily, after proper advice, and with full understanding of its consequences. United States ex rel. Crosby v. Brierley, 404 F.2d 790 (3d Cir. 1968). Because the inquiry of the relator conducted by the able trial judge, the Honorable James T. McDermott, is a model of how a state trial judge should discharge this constitutional duty, and because, further, the inquiry refutes relator's central contention that his plea was involuntary, I deem it appropriate to quote extensively from the transcript of the trial:

 'MR. SAVITT: We've discussed it with the defendant and under those circumstances we would like to enter a plea.

 'THE COURT: (Addressing the defendant.) You are Louis Savage?

 'DEFENDANT SAVAGE: Yes, sir.

 'THE COURT: You live at 1623 Christian Street?

 'DEFENDANT SAVAGE: Yes, sir.

 'THE COURT: You know, Mr. Savage, in this Bill of Indictment you have been charged with murder generally by the Grand Jury, you've been charged with murder, do you understand that?

 'DEFENDANT SAVAGE: Yes, sir. I understand it.

 'THE COURT: All right, sir. Now I understand that you intend to plead guilty to murder generally, is that correct?

 'DEFENDANT SAVAGE: Yes.

 'THE COURT: Have you discussed this with your counsel here present?

 'DEFENDANT SAVAGE: Yes.

 'THE COURT: Have you discussed this with ...


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