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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BENEDICT ET AL. v. CLIFF (05/04/73)

decided: May 4, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BENEDICT ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
CLIFF



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Nos. 108 to 111, inclusive, Misc. Dkt., No. 19, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Gary Benedict, Belva Jean Baker, Steven Root and Wilkerson Woods v. Kenneth Cliff, Warden, Lancaster County Prison.

COUNSEL

D. Patrick Zimmerman, former Assistant Public Defender, for appellants.

No appearance was entered nor brief submitted, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Nix. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Chief Justice Jones, Mr. Justice O'Brien and Mr. Justice Pomeroy join in this concurring opinion.

Author: Nix

[ 451 Pa. Page 429]

The appeals in this matter arise as a result of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas denial and dismissal of a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus which was brought on behalf of the four appellants, then inmates of the Lancaster County Prison. Each of the appellants had been sentenced for conviction of various unrelated criminal charges at different times by the Court of Common Pleas and were serving their respective sentences in the county prison when the petitions were filed. One of the appellants received only a sentence of a fine and cost of prosecution, while other appellants received in addition thereto a jail term. In each case the appellants had been immediately confined until the total of their sentence had been complied with without an opportunity at liberty to pay the fine and costs before its conversion into a jail term in default of such payments. From the order of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas the appellants sought relief in this Court and we allowed these appeals*fn1 and released appellants upon their own recognizance pending the proceedings before this court.*fn2

[ 451 Pa. Page 430]

By further order of this Court the appellants were permitted to proceed in forma pauperis.

Appellant Gary Benedict was adjudged guilty of Operating a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated and Failure to Stop and Identify on March 24, 1971 and received a sentence of Two Hundred ($200.00) Dollars plus costs of prosecution and three (3) months imprisonment, on each charge, and ordered to stand committed until the sentence had been complied with. The sentences were made to run consecutively.

Appellant Belva Jean Baker was adjudged guilty of the offense of Aggravated Assault and Battery on June 25, 1971 and sentenced to a fine of One Hundred ($100.00) Dollars plus the costs of prosecution and six (6) months imprisonment, and ordered to stand committed until the full sentence had been served.

Appellant Steven Root was adjudged guilty of Fornication and Bastardy on September 17, 1971 and was ordered to pay Seven Hundred and Eighteen and .76/100 ($718.76) Dollars representing lying in expenses, a support order dating from the birth of the child and the costs of prosecution. Mr. Root was committed forthwith to remain until the judgment of sentence was complied with.*fn3

On March 12, 1971, appellant Wilkerson Woods was convicted of Operating a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated and Failing to have an Operator's License and received a sentence of Two Hundred ($200.00) Dollars fine plus ...


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