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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. E. RICHARD MOYER (04/23/82)

decided: April 23, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
E. RICHARD MOYER, APPELLANT



No. 294 January Term, 1979, Appeal of E. Richard Moyer from the Judgments of Sentence and Denial of Juvenile Certification on No. 505 of 1979 in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County on June 27, 1979.

COUNSEL

John J. Thomas, Jonathan Blum, Asst. Public Defenders, for appellant.

Chester B. Muroski, Dist. Atty., for appellee.

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

Author: Hutchinson

[ 497 Pa. Page 645]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On January 29, 1979, appellant, then seventeen years of age, was arrested and charged in connection with the January 16, 1979 robbery-murder of John Kenvin, who was robbed and beaten to death with a blunt instrument. On April 12, 1979, appellant filed a motion to transfer the case from the Criminal Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County to Juvenile Court, pursuant to Section 6322 of the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 6322.*fn1 The trial court denied the motion to transfer on May 21, 1979, following a counseled evidentiary hearing. The following day, appellant pleaded guilty to charges of murder of the third degree and robbery. On June 27, 1979, appellant was sentenced to concurrent terms of ten to twenty years imprisonment on each conviction.

In this appeal, appellant contends that the trial court erred in refusing to transfer his case to Juvenile Court.*fn2 Moreover, appellant argues that the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 6301 et seq., denies equal protection and due process of law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We find these contentions to be without merit and, therefore, affirm the judgments of sentence.

[ 497 Pa. Page 646]

Normally, a plea of guilty constitutes a waiver of all defects and defenses except those concerning the jurisdiction of the court, the legality of the sentence and the validity of the plea. Commonwealth v. Montgomery, 485 Pa. 110, 401 A.2d 318 (1979). Appellant was expressly informed at his guilty plea colloquy that he would have the right to appeal the results of his certification hearing. More importantly, this issue of certification is jurisdictional and therefore not waivable. See Commonwealth v. Pyle, 462 Pa. 613, 342 A.2d 101 (1975) at footnote four, wherein this Court stated that the entry of a guilty plea in a juvenile setting did not amount to a waiver of the right to challenge the lower court's refusal to certify a case for disposition in Juvenile Court.

Section 6322 of the Juvenile Act provides in pertinent part: "If it appears to the court in a criminal proceeding charging murder, that the defendant is a child, the case may similarly be transferred and the provisions of this chapter applied."

We considered the application of this language in Commonwealth v. Pyle, id. wherein we stated:

Murder had always been excluded from the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts . . . . Having continued to place murder, even where a young offender is involved, within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the adult court, the assumption that the need for adult discipline and legal restraint exists in cases of this heinous nature also continues. With this in mind it becomes the juvenile's burden to show that he does not belong in the criminal court. In other words, it is the youth who must prove that he belongs in the juvenile setting by showing his need and amenability to the "program of supervision, care and rehabilitation" which he would receive as a juvenile. In the event the evidence does not affirmatively demonstrate that he is the kind of youth ...


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