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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JEROME HARRIS (01/30/81)

decided: January 30, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
JEROME HARRIS, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. CC7505477, No. 59 March Term 1978.

COUNSEL

John Halley, Court-appointed, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

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

Author: O'brien

[ 492 Pa. Page 384]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This appeal is from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County dated March 28, 1978, denying appellant's petition for post-conviction relief without a hearing.

On July 17, 1975, appellant, Jerome Harris, was charged with murder and involuntary manslaughter. The case was originally set for trial on December 15, 1975, simultaneous with appellant's trial on another offense. The court denied the Commonwealth's motion to consolidate the two trials and postponed trial on the instant case. On December 17, 1975, appellant proceeded to trial on the other charges. Since under Rule 1100 trial on the instant case was required to begin by January 9, 1976, the Commonwealth filed a timely petition for an extension of time pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(c) which the court granted on December 21, 1975, specifying that trial should begin by April 15, 1976.

On April 5, 1976, appellant pled guilty to homicide generally, and the court fixed the degree of guilt at murder of the third degree. No direct appeal was taken from the judgment of sentence of seven-and-one-half-to-twenty years imprisonment. Appellant was represented throughout these proceedings by the public defender's office.

On January 25, 1978, appellant filed a pro se petition under the Post Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA)*fn1 alleging a violation of Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100 -- viz., that he was denied the right to be heard on the Commonwealth's application for an extension of time. The public defender's office was again appointed to represent appellant, but no amended petition was filed. The Commonwealth answered appellant's petition on March 10, 1978, and on March 30, 1978, the petition

[ 492 Pa. Page 385]

    was denied without a hearing. Appellant is represented on this appeal by court-appointed private counsel.

The central issue presented by this case is whether the court below properly denied appellant a post-conviction hearing. At the outset we note that this was appellant's first post-conviction petition and that it was filed pro se stating he was without means and requesting the appointment of counsel. Under these circumstances, appellant was entitled to appointed counsel, see Pa.R.Crim.P. 1503 and 1504, and the court, upon receipt of his petition, did appoint the public defender to represent appellant. However, there is nothing ...


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