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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DALLAS ROBERT SCOTT (11/24/76)

decided: November 24, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DALLAS ROBERT SCOTT, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Dusan Bratic, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Marion E. MacIntyre, 2nd Asst. Dist. Atty., Harrisburg, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy, J., filed a concurring opinion.

Author: O'brien

[ 469 Pa. Page 382]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This appeal arises from the dismissal, without a hearing, of the Post Conviction Hearing Act Petition of appellant, Dallas Robert Scott.

The facts surrounding this appeal are as follows. On February 18, 1970, appellant was convicted of murder in the second degree. Post-trial motions were filed, but subsequently withdrawn. Appellant was sentenced to a term of ten to twenty years in a state correctional institution. A direct appeal was taken to this court, which affirmed the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Scott, 445 Pa. 618, 284 A.2d 311 (1971).

In 1973, appellant filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Following an evidentiary hearing, the petition was denied on September 24, 1974.

On November 13, 1974, appellant filed a pro se petition pursuant to the Post Conviction Hearing Act.*fn1 Counsel was appointed, but no amended petition was filed.*fn2 On December 5, 1974, appellant's petition was dismissed without a hearing.

Appellant's pro se petition was inarticulately drawn and, in the opinion of the court below, failed to allege "facts that if proven would entitle petitioner to relief. . . . ." 19 P.S. § 1180-9. This appeal followed.

[ 469 Pa. Page 383]

We do not reach the merits of appellant's claim because of the procedural posture of this case. In the instant case, pursuant to the mandate of Commonwealth v. Mitchell, 427 Pa. 395, 397, 235 A.2d 148 (1967), the public defender's office was appointed to aid the appellant in his post-conviction proceeding. In Mitchell, this court, in requiring appointment of counsel, stated:

"We pause to note that the mandatory appointment requirement is a salutary one and best comports with efficient judicial administration and serious consideration of a prisoner's claims. Counsel's ability to frame the issues in a legally meaningful fashion inures the trial court that all relevant considerations will be brought to its attention. As recognized by the American Bar Association Project on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice, Standards Relating to Post-Conviction Remedies § 4.4, at 66 (1967): 'It is a waste of valuable judicial manpower and an inefficient method of seriously treating the substantive merits of applications for post-conviction relief to proceed without counsel for the applicants who have filed pro se. . . . Exploration of the legal grounds ...


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