440 A.2d 1183 (Pa. 1981), Commonwealth v. Finley

Citation:440 A.2d 1183, 497 Pa. 332
Opinion Judge:Author: Flaherty
Party Name:COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, v. Dorothy FINLEY, Appellant.
Case Date:December 24, 1981
Court:Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
 
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Page 1183

440 A.2d 1183 (Pa. 1981)

497 Pa. 332

COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania,

v.

Dorothy FINLEY, Appellant.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

December 24, 1981

Submitted Oct. 19, 1981.

Reargument Denied Jan. 29, 1982.

Page 1184

[497 Pa. 333] Paul G. Hughes (Court-appointed), Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Gail Thackeray, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before O'BRIEN, C. J., and ROBERTS, NIX, LARSEN, FLAHERTY, KAUFFMAN and WILKINSON, JJ.

OPINION OF THE COURT

FLAHERTY, Justice.

Appellant Dorothy Finley was convicted of possessing an instrument of crime generally, prohibited offensive weapon, carrying a firearm without a license, criminal conspiracy, robbery and murder of the second degree. On direct appeal, two issues were raised: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions and (2) evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant was inadmissible because the search warrant was based on illegally obtained evidence. In a per curiam opinion, this Court affirmed the judgments of sentence. Commonwealth v. Finley, 477 Pa. 211, 383 A.2d 898 (1978). Appellant subsequently filed a pro se petition pursuant to the Post Conviction Hearing Act, Act of January 25, 1966, P.L. 1580 (1965), 19 P.S. § 1180-1 et seq. (Supp.1981-82), where she raised the identical issues addressed by this Court on direct appeal. Although appellant alleged she was indigent and requested appointment of counsel, the PCHA court denied her petition without a hearing, holding the issues raised in the petition had been finally litigated. 19 P.S. § 1180-4. On appeal from the denial of her petition [497 Pa. 334] appellant requests the case be remanded to the lower court for appointment of counsel to assist in the preparation and filing of an amended petition under the Act.

An indigent petitioner has the right to the assistance of counsel with his first PCHA petition. Commonwealth v. McClinton, 488 Pa. 598, 413 A.2d 386 (1980). The Commonwealth urges us to deny appellant relief, arguing this case falls within an exception to the right to counsel provided in Pa.R.Crim.P. 1504. Pa.R.Crim.P. 1503(a) requires the court to appoint counsel once petitioner satisfies the court of his financial inability to obtain counsel. 1 The only exception to this rule as provided in Pa.R.Crim.P. 1504 is as follows:

Appointment of counsel shall not be...

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