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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT JENNINGS (03/20/81)

filed: March 20, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT JENNINGS, APPELLANT



No. 1007 April Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at CC 7508123-A

COUNSEL

John Halley, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Johnson and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 285 Pa. Super. Page 297]

On January 29, 1976, a jury found the appellant guilty of Unlawfully Carrying a Firearm Without a License and Former Convict Not to Own a Firearm. A timely Motion for a New Trial and/or in Arrest of Judgment was filed and denied by the trial court. Sentencing, which was imposed on July 20, 1976, consisted of 2 1/2 to 5 years imprisonment on the first count and a concurrent 2 1/2 to 5 years for the remaining offense. Judgment of Sentence was appealed to this Court and we affirmed per curiam. Commonwealth v. Jennings, 256 Pa. Super. 528, 389 A.2d 171 (1978) (HOFFMAN, dissenting).

[ 285 Pa. Super. Page 298]

On August 13, 1979, appellant filed a Post-Conviction Hearing Act*fn1 (PCHA) petition. A hearing was conducted*fn2 and thereafter, on October 19, 1979, the petition was denied. The present appeal is from the Order denying the PCHA petition. This Court has reviewed the record and finds the ruling entered below to be correct. Therefore, we affirm the Order of the lower court.

The sole allegation raised by the appellant in his PCHA petition is that trial "counsel was ineffective for not raising the issue at trial [that t]he Commonwealth did not prove the barrel length of the weapon in [his] case."*fn3 (Appellant's PCHA petition, at 3) Before reaching the merits of the claim, we note that "counsel's assistance is deemed constitutionally effective once we are able to conclude that the particular course chosen by counsel had some reasonable basis designed to effectuate his client's interests." (Emphasis in original) Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 604, 235 A.2d 349, 352 (1967). However, when confronted with a claim of ineffectiveness of counsel, this Court utilizes a two-step analysis. The Court must first determine whether the issue underlying the charge of ineffectiveness is of arguable merit. Commonwealth v. Sherard, 483 Pa. 183, 394 A.2d 971 (1978). If the underlying issue is found to be of arguable merit, our inquiry shifts to a determination of whether the course

[ 285 Pa. Super. Page 299]

    chosen by counsel had some reasonable basis aimed at promoting his client's interests. Commonwealth v. Evans, 489 Pa. 85, 91, 413 A.2d 1025, 1028 (1980); Commonwealth v. Sherard, supra.

In ascertaining if appellant's averment is of arguable merit, the Court starts by examining the relevant provisions of the Uniform Firearms Act (Act) with which the accused was convicted of violating. Section 6105 provides:

"No person who has been convicted in this Commonwealth or elsewhere of a crime of violence shall own a firearm, or have one in his possession or ...


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