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UNITED STATES EX REL. WILLIAMS v. PENNSYLVANIA

July 25, 1974

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. CLARENCE A. WILLIAMS, Jr., Petitioner
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Respondent


Fogel, J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOGEL

FOGEL, J.

 On June 23, 1961, Relator Clarence Williams, was adjudged guilty by a jury on seventeen bills of indictment charging him with burglary, larceny, receiving stolen goods, loitering and prowling, and violation of the Uniform Firearms Act, at a trial held in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania; thereafter, on August 16, 1961, the Honorable Robert W. Honeyman, the presiding judge, sentenced Williams to a term of imprisonment of four to twenty years. Relator was released from prison and is now on parole.

 1. Failure of the trial court to provide him with counsel who could effectively assist him;

 2. his exclusion from the courtroom when the jury which tried and convicted him was impaneled;

 3. introduction at the trial of his allegedly illegally-obtained confession; and

 4. introduction of evidence at the trial which was procured as the result of an allegedly illegal search and seizure.

 Relator did not directly appeal his conviction and ensuing sentence to a higher state court; instead he filed a petition under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 19 P.S. § 1180-1 et seq., pursuant to which a hearing was held on September 18th and November 2, 1967 before Judge Honeyman. On November 15, 1968, the trial court dismissed the petition and issued an order and opinion in support of its action. The denial of post-conviction relief was affirmed by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, 216 Pa. Super. 731 (1969) and thereafter by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 443 Pa. 561 (1971).

 The same issues are raised by petitioner in the instant case as were presented to the state courts under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Hearing Act. Thus, he has satisfied the requirement of exhaustion of state remedies and is therefore properly before this Court. *fn1"

 Relator agreed to have this action adjudicated on the basis of the trial record, the evidence adduced at the post-conviction hearing conducted by Judge Honeyman, and such supplemental evidence as was presented at the evidentiary hearing before us on June 3, 1974. Sheldon Toll, Esquire, court-appointed counsel who successfully represented petitioner in a related habeas corpus proceeding before Judge Masterson *fn2" represents Williams in this action. *fn3"

 The record before us establishes the following critical facts and sequence of events: On April 15, 1961, Robert P. Johnson, Justice of the Peace in and for Montgomery County, charged Relator with three misdemeanors, and committed him without bail to the Montgomery County Prison and a further hearing on April 22, 1961. However, Williams remained in the custody of the Lower Merion Township Police at least until the time of his confession on Monday, April 17, 1961 (Trial [tr.] N.T. 68-69).

 On Saturday, April 15th, the police attempted to interrogate him, but ceased questioning him after he stated that he was unable to answer the first question put to him. Apparently no further inquiries were directed to Petitioner until Sunday, April 16th, when Detective Loughran questioned him for a brief time, suggesting that his failure to cooperate could result in creating a problem for his supervisor at the time, Mrs. Lucille Brown, at the Berian School.

 On Monday, April 17, 1961, Detectives McNabb and Loughran pursued their questioning and confronted Relator with certain stolen goods that had been recovered from the premises of the Berian School the preceding day as a result of a lead from Carl J. Smith, a defendant in a related prosecution for the same offenses, who was arrested simultaneously with Williams. After Relator was ...


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