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COMMONWEALTH v. PENN (12/11/74)

decided: December 11, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
PENN, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Nov. T., 1966, No. 412, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Walter Aaron Penn.

COUNSEL

Timothy F. Hennessey, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

Stewart J. Greenleaf, Assistant District Attorney, William T. Nicholas, First Assistant District Attorney, and Milton O. Moss, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Watkins, P. J.

Author: Watkins

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 366]

This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Montgomery County, denying the defendant-appellant, Walter Aaron Penn, relief under the Post Conviction Hearing Act in that his guilty plea entered March 6, 1967, was knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily made.

On December 22, 1966, the defendant was serving a sentence of ten (10) to twenty (20) years imprisonment

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 367]

    for second degree murder and a concurrent sentence of one (1) to three (3) years for assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. On that date there was an altercation at the institution between the defendant and prison guards which resulted in the defendant striking an officer in the face.

He was charged with aggravated assault and battery by a prisoner and counsel was appointed to represent him. On March 6, 1967, the defendant appeared before visiting Judge James Henninger and as a result of a plea bargain, he entered a plea to simple assault and battery. The judge accepted the agreement as presented. He was then sentenced as a result of the plea bargain to an additional two (2) year prison term. No appeal was taken from the judgment of sentence.

On September 17, 1973, the defendant filed a petition for a post-conviction hearing. He alleged "a denial of my constitutional rights to representation by effective counsel" and "the Court did not hold a colloquy as to the willfulness of his plea and the understanding of the plea." A hearing was held and his petition denied. This appeal followed.

The transcript and surrounding facts of his appearance and entry of plea to charges of simple assault and battery indicate that the plea was in fact voluntarily, intelligently and knowingly entered based on the established rule at the time it was entered. The burden of proof was on the defendant to demonstrate that the plea was improperly accepted by the court and that he was coerced into pleading guilty.

Commonwealth ex rel. West v. Rundle, 428 Pa. 102, 237 A.2d 196 (1968), and Commonwealth v. Belgrave, 445 Pa. 311, 285 A.2d 448 (1971), have fixed the current standard to be applied in determining voluntariness of a confession of guilt. Here, ...


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