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United States v. Rundle

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT


decided: November 14, 1969.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA EX REL. RALPH E. HUGHES, APPELLANT
v.
ALFRED T. RUNDLE, SUPERINTENDENT, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, GRATERFORD, PENNSYLVANIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR PHILADELPHIA COUNTY

McLaughlin, Forman, and Aldisert, Circuit Judges.

Author: Per Curiam

Opinion OF THE COURT

On April 4, 1948, Ralph E. Hughes, the appellant, pleaded guilty to an indictment alleging aggravated robbery and the operation of a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner. He was sentenced to a term of 10 to 20 years.*fn1 Following several unsuccessful attempts to secure post-conviction relief in the Pennsylvania and Federal courts, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania remanded appellant's second petition to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County for appointment of counsel and further proceedings,*fn2 whereupon counsel was appointed for appellant and an evidentiary hearing was held on February 16, 1968. At that hearing the appellant contended that his 1948 plea of guilty was induced by a coerced confession; that it was predicated upon inadequate and ineffective advice of counsel; that the trial court denied him due process of law by failing to inquire whether the plea of guilty was a knowing and voluntary act, and that he was deprived of effective assistance of counsel at sentencing. After hearing testimony both by appellant and counsel who represented him at the time of his 1948 plea, the court filed an opinion denying his petition for post-conviction relief.*fn3

Appellant then filed a petition for habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleging the same grounds. Upon carefully reviewing the notes of testimony of appellant's criminal proceeding and his post-conviction hearing transcript, the District Court, without a hearing and without oral argument, approved the state court's findings and denied the petition.*fn4

The appellant now reiterates his contentions as above, and argues that the District Court erroneously resolved them. We find, however, that it correctly disposed of them for the reasons it assigned.

Additionally, appellant argues that the District Court erred in dismissing the petition without a hearing and without oral argument. The District Court concluded that the state court had afforded appellant a full hearing on the issues and that its findings were sound and entirely justified, thus satisfying the test in Townsend v. Sain.*fn5 An independent review of the record confirms the findings of the District Court and we conclude that it was under no obligation to conduct an evidentiary hearing. Since there is no allegation that appellant's arguments were not adequately set forth in his brief, the District Court's decision not to hear oral argument was within its proper discretion.*fn6

As to appellant's assertion at oral argument that the recent decision of Boykin v. Alabama*fn7 controls this case, we find that the doctrine enunciated in Boykin should not be applied retroactively here. Although previously we have not had occasion to pass on this question, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in a well-reasoned opinion in Commonwealth v. Godfrey,*fn8 declined to accord retroactivity to this doctrine. We adopt the holding and reasoning set forth therein. We note that the court was influenced by Halliday v. United States,*fn9 which refused to give retroactive effect to McCarthy v. United States.*fn10 In McCarthy the failure of a federal court to comply with the guilty plea inquiry procedure outlined in Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C., necessitated a reversal of the conviction and required that the defendant be afforded an opportunity to plead anew.

Accordingly, the order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania of February 10, 1969, will be affirmed.


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