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[U] Commonwealth v. Wells

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 29, 2013

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
SILLIS WELLS, Appellant COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
SILLIS WELLS, Appellant COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
SILLIS WELLS, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence September 14, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0005639-2011, CP-51-CR-0005393-2011, CP-51-CR-0005391-2011

BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., WECHT, J., and COLVILLE, J.[*]

MEMORANDUM

STEVENS, P.J.

This case returns to us after remand, where, pursuant to our directive, the trial court conducted an inquiry to determine responsibility for the absence of vital sentencing transcripts from the certified record. The trial court interviewed defense counsel and learned that counsel could not produce any evidence that he made a request of the clerk of courts to include the sentencing transcript in the certified record. The trial court therefore has determined that responsibility for the missing transcript lies with Appellant.

As this Court has explained:

The fundamental tool for appellate review is the official record of the events that occurred in the trial court. To ensure that an appellate court has the necessary records, the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure provide for the transmission of a certified record from the trial court to the appellate court. The law of Pennsylvania is well settled that matters which are not of record cannot be considered on appeal. Thus, an appellate court is limited to considering only the materials in the certified record when resolving an issue. In this regard, our law is the same in both the civil and criminal context because, under the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure, any document which is not part of the officially certified record is deemed nonexistent - a deficiency which cannot be remedied merely by including copies of the missing documents in a brief or in the reproduced record. The emphasis on the certified record is necessary because, unless the trial court certifies a document as part of the official record, the appellate judiciary has no way of knowing whether that piece of evidence was duly presented to the trial court or whether it was produced for the first time on appeal and improperly inserted into the reproduced record. Simply put, if a document is not in the certified record, the Superior Court may not consider it.
This Court cannot meaningfully review claims raised on appeal unless we are provided with a full and complete certified record. This requirement is not a mere "technicality" nor is this a question of whether we are empowered to complain sua sponte of lacunae in the record. In the absence of an adequate certified record, there is no support for an appellant's arguments and, thus, there is no basis on which relief could be granted.
The certified record consists of the "original papers and exhibits filed in the lower court, the transcript of proceedings, if any, and a certified copy of the docket entries prepared by the clerk of the lower court." Pa.R.A.P. 1921. Our law is unequivocal that the responsibility rests upon the appellant to ensure that the record certified on appeal is complete in the sense that it contains all of the materials necessary for the reviewing court to perform its duty.

Commonwealth v. Preston, 904 A.2d 1, 6-7 (Pa. Super. 2006) (citations omitted). See also Commonwealth v. Williams, 715 A.2d 1101, 1106 (Pa. 1998) (finding a critical distinction between whether the lower court failed to transmit to this Court a complete record and whether the appellant failed to complete the record in the lower court).

Because Appellant failed to file transcripts with the trial court necessary for appellate review of his sentencing claim, we find the claim waived.

Judgment of sentence is affirmed.[1]

Judgment Entered.


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