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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT CAROL TAYLOR (09/22/80)

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: September 22, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT CAROL TAYLOR

No. 26, May Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Entered October 7, 1977. No. 798 C.A. 1976, Criminal Homicide.

COUNSEL

Laurence T. Himes, Jr., York, for appellant.

Sheryl Ann Dorney, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Larsen, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Kauffman

[ 491 Pa. Page 206]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On October 4, 1976, after a non jury trial, appellant, Robert Carol Taylor, was convicted of burglary and murder of the second degree. No post-verdict motions were filed, and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. No direct appeal was taken. In April 1977, appellant filed a petition under the Post Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA).*fn1 After a counseled evidentiary hearing, appellant's request for relief was denied. This appeal followed.*fn2

Appellant advances but a single claim-that his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to file a motion to suppress an allegedly involuntary confession. The PCHA court found this claim to be without merit. We agree.

It is well established that "counsel's assistance is deemed constitutionally effective once we are able to conclude that the course chosen by counsel had some reasonable basis designed to effectuate his client's interest." Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 604, 235 A.2d 349, 352 (1967) (emphasis in original). Counsel will not be found ineffective unless the course "not chosen offered a potential for success substantially greater than the tactics actually utilized." Id., 427 Pa. at 605, 235 A.2d at 353. Thus, "'counsel cannot be found ineffective for failing to assert a meritless claim'." Commonwealth v. Johnson, 490 Pa. 312, 416 A.2d 485 (1980); Commonwealth v. Hubbard, 472 Pa. 259, 372 A.2d 687 (1977).

After hearing testimony from appellant, trial counsel, and two police officers, the PCHA court rejected appellant's version of the facts and concluded that his confession was given voluntarily. The record contains competent evidence to support such a conclusion, and we will not disturb it on

[ 491 Pa. Page 207]

    appeal.*fn3 See Commonwealth v. Minnick, 432 Pa. 462, 464, 247 A.2d 569, 571 (1968). Thus, counsel was not ineffective for failing to assert an unsupported claim.

Order of the PCHA court affirmed.


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