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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BRUCE NORRIS (06/04/82)

submitted: June 4, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
BRUCE NORRIS, APPELLANT



No. 2282 Philadelphia, 1981, APPEAL FROM THE ORDER OF AUGUST 19, 1981 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, TRIAL DIVISION, CRIMINAL SECTION, Nos. 1864-1868 JUNE TERM, 1975

COUNSEL

William James Perrone, Norristown, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Hester, Cirillo and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 208]

On October 31, 1975, appellant Bruce Norris was found guilty in a jury trial of second degree murder,*fn1 robbery,*fn2 criminal conspiracy,*fn3 and possession of a prohibited offensive weapon.*fn4 Following the imposition of sentence on January 19, 1976, appellant appealed his convictions to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, pursuant to the Act of 1970, July 31,

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 209]

P.L. 673, No. 223, § 202; 17 P.S. § 211.202(1).*fn5 The judgment of sentence was affirmed per curiam on December 1, 1977. Commonwealth v. Norris, 475 Pa. 317, 380 A.2d 372 (1977). Subsequently, appellant filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief.*fn6 The petition was denied on September 23, 1981, and this appeal followed.

Appellant alleges that he was deprived of effective assistance of trial, appellate and PCHA counsel.*fn7 Appellant contends ineffectiveness of various counsel as follows: (1) appellate counsel's failure to question the admissibility of appellant's statement as fruit of an illegal arrest; (2) failure of PCHA counsel to raise an ineffectiveness claim attacking appellate counsel's omission in failing to appeal admissibility of appellant's statement; (3) failure of trial counsel to make an adequate pre-trial investigation of Commonwealth witness Atlee Moore; (4) failure of trial counsel to object and request a mistrial because of a statement made by the prosecutor in closing argument; (5) failure of trial counsel to object and request a mistrial for improper testimony of Commonwealth witness Israel Wright; and (6) failure of trial counsel to properly and effectively cross-examine Commonwealth witness Moore concerning his prior criminal history. We conclude appellant's assignments of error are without merit, and therefore affirm the order dismissing appellant's PCHA petition.

The test to be employed in determining whether counsel was effective was set forth in Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 604, 235 A.2d 349, 352-53 (1967):

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 210]

    that the particular course chosen by counsel had some reasonable basis designed to effectuate his client's interests. The test is not whether other alternatives were more reasonable, employing a hindsight evaluation of the record. (emphasis in original).

There is a presumption in the law that counsel is effective. Commonwealth v. Larry Miller, 494 Pa. 229, 431 A.2d 233 (1981). The primary concern is whether the accused's rights have been adequately protected. Commonwealth v. Roundtree, 469 Pa. 241, 364 A.2d 1359 (1976); Commonwealth v. Pride, 450 Pa. 557, 301 A.2d 582 (1973); Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, supra. Counsel cannot be deemed ...


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