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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOE N. BECKHAM (02/17/87)

submitted: February 17, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOE N. BECKHAM, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of September 9, 1986 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, No. 85-02-0948/0954.

COUNSEL

Mitchell S. Strutin, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Jane C. Greenspan, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Rowley, Olszewski and Cercone, JJ.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 363 Pa. Super. Page 189]

Appellant Joe N. Beckham was arrested and charged with robbery, possessing instruments of crime and related offenses. On June 12 and 13, 1985, appellant was tried and convicted by a jury of robbery and possessing instruments of crime, generally. Trial counsel filed post-verdict motions. On November 18, 1985, the court held a hearing to determine the merit of the ineffectiveness claims at which trial counsel and an uncalled defense witness testified. The court appointed new counsel who filed an application for reduction of bail which was denied. Defendant then retained

[ 363 Pa. Super. Page 190]

    a third attorney who filed supplemental post-verdict motions alleging trial counsel's ineffectiveness for failing to subpoena a witness at trial. On September 9, 1986, the court denied defendant's motion for a new trial and sentenced him to five to ten years imprisonment for robbery and one to two years concurrent imprisonment for possessing an instrument of crime.

Appellant now claims that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance when he did not issue a subpoena to compel the attendance, at trial, of a defense witness who would have testified as to a material issue, that is, the identification of appellant by the robbery victim.

Our scope of appellate review in cases such as this has been succinctly set forth as follows:

In determining the effectiveness of appellant's counsel "[o]ur task . . . encompasses both an independent review of the record, . . . and an examination of counsel's stewardship of the now challenged proceedings in light of the available alternatives." Commonwealth ex rel. Washington v. Maroney, 427 Pa. 599, 604, 235 A.2d 349, 352 (1967). The standard by which a trial attorney's performance is judged is well-established:

"[O]ur inquiry ceases and 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. The test is not whether other alternatives were more reasonable, employing a hindsight evaluation of the record. Although weigh the alternatives we must, the balance tips in favor of a finding of effective assistance as soon as it is determined that trial counsel's decisions had any reasonable basis." (Emphasis in the original.) 427 Pa. at ...


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