Com. ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore BELL; ROBERTS; COHEN
Citation222 A.2d 856,423 Pa. 113
Decision Date27 September 1966
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH ex rel. John WILKES, Sr., Appellant, v. James F. MARONEY, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Page 856

222 A.2d 856
423 Pa. 113
COMMONWEALTH ex rel. John WILKES, Sr., Appellant,
v.
James F. MARONEY, Superintendent, State Correctional
Institution, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Sept. 27, 1966.

[423 Pa. 114]

Page 858

John Wilkes, Sr., in pro. per.

John R. Hoye, Dist. Atty., William J. Franks, Asst. Dist. Atty., Uniontown, for appellee.

Before BELL, C.J., and MUSMANNO, JONES, EAGEN, O'BRIEN and ROBERTS, JJ.

[423 Pa. 115] OPINION OF THE COURT

ROBERTS, Justice.

John Wilkes, Sr., was tried by a jury and convicted of murder in the second degree in the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Fayette County on December 14, 1961. We affirmed the conviction on April 21, 1964. Commonwealth v. Wilkes, 414 Pa. 246, 199 A.2d 411 (1964). Certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on December 7, 1964, 379 U.S. 939, 85 S.Ct. 344, 13 L.Ed.2d 349 (1964).

On June 22, 1965, Wilkes filed a habeas corpus petition in the court of common pleas which was denied without hearing. Now before us is the appeal from that denial. Ater reviewing the petition and the record, we affirm the denial of the court below.

At appellant's trial he readily admitted shooting and killing his twenty year old son Ronald, while the latter was attempting to break into appellant's house near midnight. This evidence was corroborated by witnesses present at the shooting, one of whom was the defendant's twelve year old daughter. The evidence most favorable to the Commonwealth further tended to show that present in appellant's house on the night of the shooting was a woman with whom both the deceased and the appellant had had sexual relations and about whom appellant and deceased had argued on a previous occasion, that appellant and deceased had had in the recent past several confrontations over matters not related to the woman, during which appellant had struck and thereatened the deceased, that the deceased was larger by only ten pounds than the appellant and that when appellant reached for his shotgun just prior to the shooting, he knew that the intruder at his door was his son Ronald. Defense strategy at trial was focused on a plea of selfdefense.

Appellant contends that the statements made to police by him after his arrest were involuntary and were [423 Pa. 116] introduced at trial in violation of his constitutional rights. This claim is clearly barred by the defense's failure to interpose any objection or, in any other way, to apprise the court of a claim that coerciveness surrounded the statements. E.g., Commonwealth ex rel. Fox v. Maroney, 417 Pa. 308, 207 A.2d 810 (1965).

Relying on Escobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, 12 L.Ed.2d 977 (1964), appellant aseerts that he is entitled to relief because of the introduction at trial of statements he made to police without the advice of counsel. While it is true that Escobedo was decided on June 22, 1964, almost three years after appellant's trial, appellant's conviction was not then 'final' as we defined that word in Commonwealth v. Negri, 419 Pa. 117, 128--129, 213 A.2d 670, 675--676 (1965), and thus under Negri appellant would have been entitled to raise an Escobedo claim. In the meanwhile, however, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that Escobedo need only be applied to defendants whose trials began after June 22, 1964. Johnson v. State of New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719, 721, 86 S.Ct. 1772, 1775, 16 L.Ed.2d 882 (1966). Since our finality holding in Negri was solely premised on our projection as to the category of cases to which the Supreme

Page 859

Court intended the Escobedo rules must apply and since that category has now received a different, and definitive delineation which does not encompass appellant's case, appellant is not entitled to raise an Escobedo claim. Commonwealth v. Cheeks, Pa., 223 A.2d 291 (1966).

Appellant claims that he did not receive constitutionally adequate counsel. The record clearly indicates that at trial appellant was defended by two attorneys, one of whom had forty years experience including a number of years as an assistant district attorney. Moreover, a reading of the record does not suggest that the conduct of appellant's defense was constitutionally inadequate. [423 Pa. 117] Appellant's contentions seem to come down to the fact that he is not now satisfied with the strategy adopted by his counsel at trial. We have said before that such claims afford no basis for a hearing or for relief. Commonwealth ex rel. LaRue v. Rundle, 417 Pa. 383, 386--389, 207 A.2d 829, 831--832 (1965).

Wilkes' petition in this Court also contains a statement suggesting that he was denied counsel on appeal. This allegation is refuted by the record and by the opinion of this Court, Commonwealth v. Wilkes, 414 Pa. 246, 248, 199 A.2d 411, 412 (1965). In the absence of some extraordinary circumstance described with specificity, a bare allegation in a habeas corpus petition which is clearly contradicted by the record does not entitle the petitioner to a hearing. Commonwealth ex rel. Ryan v. Rundle, 411 Pa. 613, 618, 192 A.2d 362, 364, cert. denied, 375 U.S. 948, 84 S.Ct. 358, 11 L.Ed.2d 277 (1963); see Commonwealth ex rel. Bolish v. Banmiller, 396 Pa. 129, 131, 151 A.2d 480, 481, cert. denied, 361 U.S. 898, 80 S.Ct. 201, 4 L.Ed.2d 153 (1959); cf. Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 407 Pa. 535, 538, 180 A.2d 923, 925, cert. denied, 371 U.S. 866, 83 S.Ct. 127, 9 L.Ed.2d 103 (1962). Moreover, appellant's failure to raise this point in the habeas petition he presented to the court below precludes him from relief on this claim here. See Commonwealth ex rel. Pacewicz v. Turley, 399 Pa. 458, 466, 160 A.2d 685, 689 (1960); Commmonwealth ex rel. Hullig v. Ashe, 145 Pa.Super. 11, 18, 20 A.2d 852, 856 (1941).

Several of appellant's contentions surround the admissibility of 'love notes' which passed between himself and a young woman with whom both he and his son Ronald were having sexual relations. Appellant's claim that the notes were incompetent because they were turned over to the prosecution by his wife was considered and disposed of by us on direct appeal. Commonwealth v. Wilkes, 414 Pa. at 250--251, 199 A.2d [423 Pa. 118] at 413. His claim, raised for the first time in his petition for habeas corpus that the notes should have been excluded because their inflammatory quality outweighed their relevance was an issue which could have been raised at trial. Trial counsel's failure to do so, even though mistaken, may not be rectified by a writ of habeas corpus. As we have said time and again, the writ of habeas corpus may not be used to circumvent procedural rules. See, e.g., Commonwealth ex rel. Walls v. Maroney, 416 Pa. 290, 295, 205 A.2d 862, 865 (1965).

Appellant also asserts that the 'love notes' should not have been admitted at trial because they were obtained in violation of the fourth amendment. Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961). Appellant's fourth amendment claim here may be simply disposed of by citing the failure of the defense at any time during a post-Mapp trial or its appeal to challenge admission of the evidence on fourth amendment grounds. 1 See Commonwealth

Page 860

v. Raymond, 412 Pa. 194, 210--203, 194 A.2d 150, 154 (1963), cert. denied, [423 Pa. 119] 377 U.S. 999, 84 S.Ct. 1930, 12 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1964). Defense counsel's objection to the admission of the 'love notes' was clearly confined to the ground that they violated the rule that testimony of a defendant's spouse is not normally admissible in a criminal trial. As we have said before '(w)here the reason upon which an objection is based is specifically stated, as was done in this case, all ohter reasons for exclusion are waived.' Commonwealth v. Negri, 414 Pa. 21, 29, 198 A.2d 595, 600 (1964).

Appellant argues that his acquittal by a coroner's jury made his subsequent prosecution in the court of oyer and terminer a denial of due process. There is no basis in reason or authority for an equation of the effect of a trial jury verdict and a coroner's jury verdict for purposes of the doctrines of double jeopardy or Autrefois acquit. The coroner's inquest is merely designed to serve 'as an aid in the detection of crime and * * * (is) merely advisory to those charged with the administration of the criminal law.' Commonwealth ex rel. Linde v. Maroney, 416 Pa. 331, 334, 206 A.2d 288, 290 (1965). We have held that a conviction of first degree murder could not be attacked in a habeas corpus proceeding solely because a coroner's jury had recommended that the defendant be held for the grand jury only on a manslaughter charge. Commonwealth ex rel. Tanner v. Ashe, 365 Pa. 419, 76 A.2d...

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21 practice notes
  • United States ex rel. Gockley v. Myers, No. 19209.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 20, 1971
    ...rights." Commonwealth ex rel. Fox v. Maroney, 417 Pa. 308, 207 A.2d 810 (1965), accord, Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 222 A.2d 856 (1966). To be entitled to federal habeas corpus relief, petitioner must show prejudice flowing from the illegal detention. See Commonweal......
  • Com. ex rel. Staino v. Cavell
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 24, 1967
    ...June 22, 1964, the date of the ruling in Escobedo. 6 This request was considered and rejected in Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 116, 222 A.2d 856 (1966) and Commonwealth v. Senk, 423 Pa. 129, 132, 133, 223 A.2d 97 (1966) wherein this Court reconsidered its ruling in Ne......
  • Com. v. Gordon
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 30, 1987
    ...opinion); Commonwealth v. Witherspoon, 481 Pa. 321, 324 n. 4, 392 A.2d 1313, 1314 n. 4 (1978); Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 119, 222 A.2d 856, 860 (1966); Commonwealth v. Updegrove, 413 Pa. 599, 605, 198 A.2d 534, 537 (1964); Commonwealth v. Berry, 355 Pa.Super. 243,......
  • Com. v. Schmidt
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 22, 1966
    ...claim that he requested counsel, the majority's discussion of Negri is not necessary. See Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 116, 222 A.2d 856, 858--859 (1966); Commonwealth v. Cheeks, Pa., 223 A.2d 291 (1966). Frankly, I suspect that all the speculation on this point is a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • United States ex rel. Gockley v. Myers, No. 19209.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 20, 1971
    ...rights." Commonwealth ex rel. Fox v. Maroney, 417 Pa. 308, 207 A.2d 810 (1965), accord, Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 222 A.2d 856 (1966). To be entitled to federal habeas corpus relief, petitioner must show prejudice flowing from the illegal detention. See Commonweal......
  • Com. ex rel. Staino v. Cavell
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 24, 1967
    ...June 22, 1964, the date of the ruling in Escobedo. 6 This request was considered and rejected in Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 116, 222 A.2d 856 (1966) and Commonwealth v. Senk, 423 Pa. 129, 132, 133, 223 A.2d 97 (1966) wherein this Court reconsidered its ruling in Ne......
  • Com. v. Gordon
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 30, 1987
    ...opinion); Commonwealth v. Witherspoon, 481 Pa. 321, 324 n. 4, 392 A.2d 1313, 1314 n. 4 (1978); Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 119, 222 A.2d 856, 860 (1966); Commonwealth v. Updegrove, 413 Pa. 599, 605, 198 A.2d 534, 537 (1964); Commonwealth v. Berry, 355 Pa.Super. 243,......
  • Com. v. Schmidt
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 22, 1966
    ...claim that he requested counsel, the majority's discussion of Negri is not necessary. See Commonwealth ex rel. Wilkes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 113, 116, 222 A.2d 856, 858--859 (1966); Commonwealth v. Cheeks, Pa., 223 A.2d 291 (1966). Frankly, I suspect that all the speculation on this point is a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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