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COMMONWEALTH v. CROWSON (01/19/73)

decided: January 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CROWSON, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, July T., 1957, No. 1434, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. James A. Crowson.

COUNSEL

Jerome E. Furman, for appellant.

Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 450 Pa. Page 219]

The appellant James A. Crowson pleaded guilty in 1957 to a charge of murder generally. In a subsequent hearing, guilt was fixed at murder in the first degree and a sentence of life imprisonment was imposed. Although no appeal was taken from that judgment of sentence, the appellant has pursued various collateral remedies in the intervening years.

In 1964 appellant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, arguing that the trial court before

[ 450 Pa. Page 220]

    which he was convicted lacked jurisdiction over him at the time of entry of the guilty plea, appellant being at that date a youth of fifteen years; that he had been denied a right to counsel during a custodial interrogation; and that the confession that resulted was involuntary. After an evidentiary hearing, the petition was denied. An appeal to this Court from that denial was dismissed for non prosequitur.

Appellant then petitioned the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that he had not been represented by counsel at the Juvenile Court hearing after which he had been bound over for trial as an adult, and further that his guilty plea was the product of a coerced confession. The District Court ordered a de novo certification proceeding, during which the court of common pleas determined that appellant had been properly bound over for trial. The District Court then considered appellant's additional allegation, specifically found that the confession was not involuntary by then existing standards, and denied relief; the Court of Appeals affirmed. United States ex rel. Crowson v. Brierley, 300 F. Supp. 1175 (E.D. Pa. 1968), aff'd, 411 F. 2d 910 (3d Cir. 1969).

On April 29, 1970, appellant filed a petition under the Post Conviction Hearing Act, 19 P.S. §§ 1180-1 et seq., alleging that his plea of guilty was not knowingly or intelligently entered, that he was not informed of his right to a direct appeal and to counsel on that appeal, and that he was deprived of constitutional rights by a custodial interrogation without being forewarned of his right to counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the court below denied the petition, finding as a fact that "defendant entered his guilty plea, while represented by counsel, knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily. . . ." Appeal of that denial comes to us under the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970, July 31,

[ 450 Pa. Page 2211970]

, P. L. 673, art. II, § 202(1), 17 P.S. § 211.202(1), and under the Post Conviction Hearing Act, Jan. 25, 1966, P. L. ...


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