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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT LEE JONES (03/23/78)

decided: March 23, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT LEE JONES, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Defender Assn. of Philadelphia, Benjamin Lerner, Defender, John W. Packel, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

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

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

Author: Roberts

[ 477 Pa. Page 267]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Robert Lee Jones appeals from an order of the Post Conviction Hearing Act court denying his petition for relief 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.1977).*fn* We affirm.

[ 477 Pa. Page 268]

On August 4, 1972, after several days of trial, appellant pled guilty to murder of the second degree and several lesser offenses. The trial court sentenced appellant to six to twenty years imprisonment on the murder conviction and suspended sentence on the other charges. Appellant did not take a direct appeal from the judgment of sentence.

On June 20, 1975, appellant filed a petition for relief under the Act. The PCHA court appointed counsel other than trial counsel to assist appellant in filing a petition conforming with the Act. Appellant's amended petition alleged that: (1) trial counsel was ineffective in not raising issues properly, not advising appellant adequately of the consequences of his plea of guilty, and otherwise failing to provide zealous representation; (2) his plea of guilty was unlawfully induced; (3) prejudicial pre-trial publicity existed; and (4) statements made by appellant to police were unlawfully obtained. After filing the amended petition but before entry of the PCHA court's order, appellant also asserted that his appellate rights were denied, see Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 83 S.Ct. 814, 9 L.Ed.2d 811 (1963).

The PCHA court concluded that trial counsel was effective and appellant's plea was validly entered. The court declined to rule on appellant's assertion that his appellate rights were denied, believing that it had jurisdiction over the merits of the validity of appellant's plea of guilty. Appellant did not subsequently request the PCHA court to make an express ruling on his Douglas claim. The court also did not rule on appellant's contention that prejudicial pre-trial publicity existed or that his statements to the police were unlawfully obtained.

Appellant asserts that, because he did not voluntarily and knowingly enter his plea of guilty and because the trial court participated in the sentencing agreement, the PCHA

[ 477 Pa. Page 269]

    court erred in failing to find that appellant's plea of guilty was not validly entered. Appellant also contends that trial counsel was ineffective for not interviewing certain witnesses, thereby inducing his plea of guilty. Appellant fails, however, to renew his claim that his Douglas rights have been denied. We conclude that appellant has not proven that his present challenge to the validity of his plea of guilty has not been waived for failing to raise the issue ...


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