Com. v. Wilson

Decision Date12 October 1971
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee, v. Raymond P. WILSON, Appellant.
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court



O'BRIEN, Justice.

Appellant was found guilty of first-degree murder after a jury trial on May 18, 1956, and sentenced to life imprisonment. We affirmed the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Wilson, 394 Pa. 588, 148 A.2d 234 (1959), and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari, 361 U.S. 844, 80 S.Ct. 97, 4 L.Ed.2d 82 (1959). Appellant next petitioned for federal habeas corpus relief, alleging that a witness against him at trial, Edward Nixon, had repudiated his testimony. This petition was denied, United States ex rel. Wilson v. Rundle, 208 F.Supp. 484 (E.D.Pa., 1962). Appellant then sought state habeas corpus relief, alleging, Inter alia, the same issue, and his petition was dismissed. We affirmed this dismissal in an opinion where we discussed and rejected the claim regarding Nixon's testimony. Com. ex rel. Wilson v. Rundle, 412 Pa. 109, 112--114, 194 A.2d 143 (1963).

Appellant recently filed a PCHA petition where he raised the same issue in addition to alleging prejudicial pretrial publicity, and the improper use of his past criminal record. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition without a hearing, on the grounds that appellant's previous appeal and habeas corpus petition foreclosed any further relief. This appeal followed.

Since appellant's arguments concerning pretrial publicity and the improper use of his record could have been raised in his direct appeal, there is no doubt that he is foreclosed from raising those issues. However, he contends that when we dealt with his allegation concerning Edward Nixon's repudiated testimony, appellant was not represented by counsel. Therefore, he contends, this issue should not be considered finally litigated.

The post-conviction hearing judge, relying on Section 3 of the Post Conviction Hearing Act, 19 P.S. § 1180--3, which provides that in order for a petitioner to be eligible for relief under the act, he must prove:

'(d) That the error resulting in his conviction and sentence has not been finally litigated or waived,'

and Section 4 of the act, which states that an issue is finally litigated if:

'(a) * * * (3) The Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has ruled on the merits of the issue,'

concluded that, because we considered appellant's argument concerning Nixon's allegedly repudiated testimony, that issue has been finally litigated, even though appellant was not represented by counsel when that issue was argued.

However, we believe that the presence of counsel, in many cases, is crucial to the process of intelligent judicial review. The well-written brief and the well-reasoned oral argument can make all the difference in the world in helping an appellate court to reach the correct result, especially in those cases where the record is unclear or the...

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11 cases
  • Com. v. Cornitcher
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • May 25, 1972
    ...223 (1967). Since appellant was represented by counsel in his first petition, that issue would be finally litigated, Com. v. Wilson, 444 Pa. 433, 283 A.2d 78 (1971), except for the fact that the dismissal of the first petition predates Bruton which is fully retroactive, Roberts v. Russell, ......
  • Johnson v. State, 5022
    • United States
    • Wyoming Supreme Court
    • March 23, 1979 counsel, either before judgment of conviction or on direct appeal from that judgment. To the same effect, see Commonwealth v. Wilson, 444 Pa. 433, 283 A.2d 78 (1971).3 We said in Johnson v. State, supra, at 562 P.2d 1298:"The record is silent as to the facts upon which this court could d......
  • Com. v. Monica
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • October 7, 1991
    ...proceeding does not constitute a waiver where the defendant is not represented by counsel in the proceeding. See Commonwealth v. Wilson, 444 Pa. 433, 283 A.2d 78 (1971). This rule does not apply where the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived representation by counsel. Commonwealth v......
  • Com. v. Wentz
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • January 9, 1981
    ...proceeding does not constitute waiver where the defendant is not represented by counsel during that proceeding. Commonwealth v. Wilson, 444 Pa. 433, 283 A.2d 78 (1971).2 The majority also states that appellant has argued that a written waiver of the right to counsel must be executed by a cr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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