Duquesne Law Review


Accused's loss of memory surrounding events of alleged criminal act held not to entitle him to a discharge from the indictment or stay of proceedings.

Commonwealth ex rel. Cummins v. Price, 421 Pa. 396, 218 A.2d 758(1966).

Relator was indicted for first degree murder. The only evidence presented of the alleged murder was circumstantial and, at best, inconclusive. A pretrial petition for a writ of habeas corpus was filed requesting that (1) the murder indictment be dismissed and relator be discharged from custody, or (2) the trial on the indictment be postponed. The petition averred that while the relator was at no time insane or incompetent, he was suffering from a permanent loss of memory of the events and circumstances implicating him in the alleged murder. In dismissing the petition the lower court found that relator was not feigning the amnesia but did not determine its expected duration. On appeal the supreme court held, with two Justices dissenting, ". . . that defendant is not entitled at this time (1) to a discharge from the indictment, or (2) to a stay of proceedings ...."

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