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COMMONWEALTH v. RICE (04/26/74)

decided: April 26, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
RICE, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, Dec. T., 1970, No. C-135, and March T., 1971, No. C-105, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William James Rice.

COUNSEL

Charles A. Getty, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

James A. Nelson, First Assistant District Attorney, and Caram J. Abood, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 456 Pa. Page 91]

Appellant, seventeen years old, was arrested on two charges of murder. On November 2, 1970, a preliminary hearing was conducted before a district justice of the peace. Appellant's counsel there objected to the hearing's being held before a justice of the peace, asserting that it should be held in juvenile court. His objection was overruled.

The Commonwealth then established prima facie cases of murder, and appellant was held for grand jury consideration. Two indictments charging murder were returned. Following arraignment in the Court of Common

[ 456 Pa. Page 92]

Pleas of Cambria County, appellant, still age seventeen, entered counseled pleas of guilty and was adjudged guilty of voluntary manslaughter in both cases. On March 18, 1971, concurrent sentences of six to twelve years imprisonment were imposed. No direct appeal from the judgments of sentence was taken.

On March 9, 1972, appellant filed a petition under the Post Conviction Hearing Act, Act of January 25, 1966, P.L. (1965) 1580, 19 P.S. ยงยง 1180-1 to -14 (Supp. 1973). On this appeal from the hearing court's denial, following argument by counsel, of post-conviction relief,*fn1 appellant contends that his guilty pleas were invalid solely because his preliminary hearing was held before a justice of the peace instead of in juvenile court. It is argued that the Juvenile Court Law in effect at the time of his preliminary hearing*fn2 required that any action against a juvenile be initiated exclusively as a certification hearing in juvenile court, and that the committing magistrate's refusal, over objection, to transfer the hearing to juvenile court requires that appellant's pleas be vacated and appellant discharged. We disagree and affirm.

Although counsel objected at the preliminary hearing to the now-asserted pre-indictment procedural irregularity, no subsequent challenge to the validity of the indictments was made and no objection to this procedure was raised at the time of appellant's pleas. Furthermore, appellant's plea of guilty "constituted a

[ 456 Pa. Page 93]

    waiver of all non-jurisdictional defects and defenses." Commonwealth ex rel. Walls v. Rundle, 414 Pa. 53, 55, 198 A.2d 528, 529 (1964); see Commonwealth v. Irby, 445 Pa. 248, 284 A.2d 738 (1971). Consequently, this claimed error may not now be reviewed.*fn3 See Commonwealth v. Moore, 440 Pa. 86, 270 A.2d 200 (1970); cf. Commonwealth v. Bruno, 203 Pa. Superior Ct. 541, 201 A.2d 434 (1964), cert. denied, ...


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