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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SAMUEL X. JOHNSON (10/03/75)

decided: October 3, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
SAMUEL X. JOHNSON, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Vincent J. Ziccardi, Defender, John W. Packel, Chief, Appeals Div., Defender Assn. of Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief Appeals Div., for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Roberts, J., joins.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 463 Pa. Page 186]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Order affirmed.

MANDERINO, Justice (dissenting).

I dissent. Appellant's Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was clearly violated by the actions (and inaction), both at trial and on appeal, of his court-appointed defense attorney. In Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 235 A.2d 349 (1967), we set forth the test to be applied where a denial of effective assistance of trial counsel is alleged in a petition for post conviction relief. "[O]ur inquiry ceases and counsel's assistance is deemed constitutionally effective once we are able to conclude that the particular course chosen by counsel had some reasonable basis designed to effectuate his client's interests." (Emphasis in original.) 427 Pa. at 604, 235 A.2d at 352.

The record reveals that appellant did not receive the standard of representation guaranteed by the Constitution. In many instances, trial counsel's actions or inaction were not founded upon reasonable trial strategy, but were plainly the result of counsel's lack of trial experience. The two examples which follow illustrate the ineffectiveness displayed by appellant's counsel throughout the trial.

Several times during presentation of the prosecution's case, the assistant district attorney, made reference to the gruesome condition of the decedent's body by introducing photographs of the body and questioning prosecution witnesses as to what these photographs depicted. When placing these photographs into evidence, the prosecution stated that they showed the decedent's body but

[ 463 Pa. Page 187]

    that he had no request that the photographs be shown to the jury. When showing these photographs to the prosecution's first witness, the Philadelphia County Assistant Medical Examiner, the prosecutor stated that they were for his "eye only," and that the jury was not to see them. Later, the following exchange occurred between the assistant district attorney and another of the prosecution's witnesses:

"Q. I show you Commonwealth's Exhibit No. 3, a photograph, I will ask that you hold it so that ...


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