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COMMONWEALTH v. HOWARD (12/11/74)

decided: December 11, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HOWARD, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Oct. T., 1966, Nos. 612, 614, 615 and 616, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles Thomas Howard.

COUNSEL

Michael J. Stack, Jr., and O'Halloran, Stack & Smith, for appellant.

David Richman, James A. Shellenberger, Mark Sendrow and Steven H. Goldblatt, Assistant District Attorneys, Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 354]

On January 16, 1967, appellant was tried by a jury upon charges of assault and battery, attempted rape, and resisting an officer. The verdict was guilty on all counts. Timely motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were filed and denied. On November 27, 1967, sentence was rendered by the trial Judge Doty. Appellant directly appealed to our Court on December 21, 1967, and we affirmed judgment of sentence at 212 Pa. Superior Ct. 723, 241 A.2d 357 (1968). On March 13, 1973, appellant filed a petition with the trial court pursuant to the "Post Conviction Hearing Act."*fn1 Hearing before Judge Doty was had on October 2, 1973, after which appellant's petition was denied. Appellant is now before us on an appeal from this denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.

Appellant's first argument is that he was denied effective counsel. An attorney from the Philadelphia Voluntary Defender had been appointed as counsel for

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 355]

Howard and for one of two co-defendants.*fn2 Howard had been reluctant to talk with this counsel because he was under the misapprehension that private counsel had been retained for him. He now alleges that this counsel first met with him on the morning of the trial, that the Voluntary Defender's office was unfamiliar with his case even though it had maintained a file on the subject, and that his counsel was thus not afforded sufficient time to become an effective advocate for appellant.*fn3

In our deliberations we are guided by Commonwealth v. Benjamin, 219 Pa. Superior Ct. 344, 280 A.2d 625 (1971), for the priniciple that an evidentiary hearing pursuant to the "Post Conviction Hearing Act," supra, is the proper forum for raising an ineffective counsel argument so that the Commonwealth may have an opportunity to show that the representation was effective under the standards enunciated in Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 235 A.2d 349 (1967). We have carefully studied the record from the June 19, 1973, "PCHA" hearing and conclude that there is ample testimony from trial counsel to show that a file had been maintained on appellant and that the same was available for trial preparation at all times. If the file was in any way deficient because appellant had from time to time refused to speak with his counsel, appellant cannot claim that a lack of preparation caused by his own conduct entitles him to relief based upon ineffectiveness of counsel resulting from such lack of preparation. We find ample

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 356]

    evidence to support the opinion of Judge Doty in denying appellant's post-conviction petition on the basis of the alleged ineffectiveness of counsel.

Appellant next argues that a confession of the remaining co-defendant Devore, testified to at the trial by a police officer, was a violation of appellant's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. Appellant's reliance on Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S. Ct. 1620, 20 L. Ed. 2d 476 (1968), is inappropriate.*fn4 As we held in Commonwealth v. Hirsch, 225 Pa. Superior Ct. 494, 311 A.2d 679 (1974), when the co-defendant co-conspirator who makes a confession which is offered at the trial, takes the stand and is subjected to full cross-examination, there is no violation of the defendant's right to confront those who accuse him. We recognize that the cross-examination in the instant case came about ...


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