Calvin S. Drayer, Jr., Asst. Public Defender, Chief, Appeals Div., for appellant.
William T. Nicholas, Dist. Atty., Ross Weiss, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., Eric J. Cox, Bert M. Goodman, Asst. Dist. Attys., for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion. Eagen, C. J., and Nix and Manderino, JJ., concur in the result.
On March 20, 1974, appellant, Emmanuel Beatty, pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and aggravated assault and battery. He was sentenced on June 4, 1974 to a term of not less than four nor more than ten years imprisonment. Beatty filed a timely appeal from the judgment of sentence to the Superior Court, but on the advice of counsel Beatty later withdrew the appeal and simultaneously filed a petition under the Post Conviction Hearing Act, Act of January 25, 1966, P.L. (1965) 1580, § 1 et seq., 19 P.S. § 1180-1 et seq. (Supp.1976-1977) [hereinafter "the Act" or "PCHA"].*fn1 Appellant's petition was dismissed by the PCHA court without an evidentiary hearing. On appeal from the dismissal, a majority of the Superior Court affirmed, holding that Beatty's withdrawal of his prior direct appeal constituted a waiver, under section 4(b)(1) of the Act,*fn2 of his right to challenge collaterally the lawfulness of his guilty plea. Commonwealth v. Beatty, 236 Pa. Super. 137, 344 A.2d 591 (1975). This Court then granted allocatur to determine whether appellant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claim. For the reasons set forth below, we vacate the orders of the Superior Court and the PCHA court, and remand the case to the court of common pleas for such a hearing.
Section 9 of the PCHA provides:
"If a petition alleges facts that if proven would entitle the petitioner to relief, the court shall grant a hearing which may extend only to the issues raised in the petition or answer. However, the court may deny a hearing if the petitioner's claim is patently frivolous and is without a trace of support either in the record or from other evidence submitted by the petitioner." 19 P.S. § 1180-9 (Supp.1976-1977).
In accordance with this provision this Court has held that a PCHA petition may be summarily dismissed if the facts alleged in the petition would not, even if proved, entitle the petitioner to relief.*fn3 E. g., Commonwealth v. O'Donnell, 472 Pa. 25, 370 A.2d 1209 (1977); Commonwealth v. Hargrove, 434 Pa. 393, 254 A.2d 22 (1969).
In this case, the PCHA petition alleged in effect that Beatty's guilty plea was unlawfully induced by assurances by his trial counsel that upon being sentenced appellant would not be incarcerated, but instead would receive a civil commitment under section 410 of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act, Act of October 20, 1966, Special Sess. No. 3, P.L. 98, Art. IV, § 410, 50 P.S. § 4410 (Supp.1976-1977). In our view, this claim is not "patently frivolous" within the meaning of section 9 of the Act. See Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 97 S.Ct. 1621, 52 L.Ed.2d 136 (1977); cf. Commonwealth v. Sanutti, 454 Pa. 344, 312 A.2d 42 (1973); Commonwealth v. Alvarado, 442 Pa. 516, 276 A.2d 526 (1971). Since appellant's claim depends upon proof
of facts outside the record his right to relief can be established only through an evidentiary hearing. He is entitled to such a hearing, however, only if he has not waived his right to challenge collaterally the validity of his plea. The Superior Court having held ...