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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DAVID M. BROWN (03/20/80)

decided: March 20, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DAVID M. BROWN, APPELLANT



No. 520 January Term, 1978, Appeal from Dismissal of P.C.H.A. petition dated November 2, 1978, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division, at No. 179 April Term, 1964.

COUNSEL

William J. Furber, Jr., Norristown, for appellant.

John T. Salvucci, Asst. Dist. Atty., Joseph A. Smyth, Norristown, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 488 Pa. Page 321]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant David M. Brown appeals to this Court 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. Finding no error in the order of the PCHA court denying appellant's petition, we affirm.

[ 488 Pa. Page 322]

On April 19, 1965, appellant pleaded guilty to murder generally. After a two day hearing, he was adjudicated guilty of murder of the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. Appellant took no appeal from judgment of sentence. On April 11, 1966, appellant filed his first PCHA petition. The petition was denied after a hearing and appellant took no appeal.

In his second PCHA petition, filed January 8, 1969, appellant raised several issues. Most pertinent here is appellant's assertion that his guilty plea was induced by the prosecutor's promise to place a letter in appellant's file recommending commutation after ten years of appellant's life sentence. Appellant contended that the prosecutor's failure to comply with this agreement provided a ground for withdrawal of the plea. The PCHA court rejected this claim, finding that

"2. There was no plea bargaining in which the court participated and the defendant was informed and said he understood that the court had made no commitment, promise or guarantee of leniency;

3. Petitioner's plea of guilty was not induced by a promise that he would be released from incarceration within 10 years."

Additionally appellant claimed that he had not been informed of his right to appeal from judgment of sentence. On this ground the court granted him the opportunity to appeal as though timely filed. See Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 83 S.Ct. 814, 9 L.Ed.2d 811 (1963); Commonwealth ex rel. Light v. Cavell, 422 Pa. 215, 220 A.2d 883 (1966); Commonwealth ex rel. Cunningham v. Maroney, 421 Pa. 157, 218 A.2d 811 (1966). Appellant then took such an appeal to this Court. He did not contest the PCHA court's adverse ruling on his commutation claim. Instead, appellant argued that his guilty plea should be vacated because of his incompetency to enter a guilty plea, counsel's ...


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