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[U] In re J.E.L.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 11, 2014



Appeal from the Order July 5, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Juvenile Division at No(s): CP-46-JV-0000385-2013




J.E.L., Jr. (Appellant) appeals from the dispositional order of July 5, 2013, providing for probation, following his adjudication of delinquency based upon the crimes of aggravated assault, simple assault, and disorderly conduct.[1] Counsel for Appellant has filed a Petition to Withdraw as Counsel pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), Commonwealth v. McClendon, 434 A.2d 1185 (Pa. 1981), and Commonwealth v. Santiago, 978 A.2d 349 (Pa. 2009). We grant counsel's petition to withdraw and affirm the dispositional order.

The juvenile court summarized the history of this case as follows, based on the testimony that occurred at an adjudicatory hearing on June 12, 2013.

At the hearing, the Commonwealth presented the testimony of Theresa Grossman, a teacher at Eisenhour Science Technology Leadership Academy (the school). Grossman testified that [Appellant] was one of her students. Grossman testified that on May 16, 2013, there was a verbal altercation in her classroom between [Appellant] and other students. Grossman ended the lesson and directed two of her students to head to the student computers. Grossman directed [Appellant] and another student to return to their desks and stop speaking to each other. The other student went to his desk and [Appellant] eventually went back to his desk. [Appellant's] desk and the other student's desk were a couple of feet apart. Grossman testified that [Appellant] started to get up out of his seat and move toward the other student. Grossman tried to remove [Appellant] from the classroom. She reached for [Appellant's] hand but he pulled away and kept going toward the other student. Grossman testified "I just kept trying to pull him, come on, we need to leave the room, let's go. At that point it was like a struggle because he was fiercely trying to go the other way, and that's when he bent low and picked up my leg." Grossman testified that she fell over and suffered a fracture of her tibial plateau.
The Commonwealth also presented testimony of Rachel McClellan Kirksey, the assistant principal at the school. Kirksey testified that [Appellant] came to the school office on May 16, 2013 and stated that he was assaulted by Grossman. Kirksey went to Grossman's classroom to check on her. Kirksey returned to her office and told [Appellant] that Grossman was seriously injured. Kirksey testified that [Appellant] stayed with her until the end of the day. Kirksey testified that she had to stop [Appellant] from talking about the incident with other students. Kirksey testified "He said he threw his teacher down on the ground. Another student, he told them he flipped her. He told another child that he -- pretty much repeating the same thing. He did it on at least four occasions. I told him to stop talking about it." Kirksey testified that he was saying it in a braggadocious kind of way.
[Appellant] presented the testimony of Patricia Culbreath, a paraprofessional at the school. Culbreath testified that on May 16, 2013, Grossman was trying to remove [Appellant] from the classroom after [Appellant] and another student argued. Culbreath testified that [Appellant] was wiggling around as Grossman was trying to get him out of the room. She testified that Grossman grabbed behind his neck and as she was pulling, she grabbed a piece of his hair. Culbreath testified that [Appellant] "leaned forward, and within a split second, he had Miss Grossman's leg in the air, and it was two or three seconds, she fell from there and he ran out of the room."
[Appellant] also testified in his own defense. [Appellant] testified that on May 16, 2013, he and another student had an argument in the classroom. [Appellant] testified that Grossman tried to get him away from the argument. He testified that Grossman pulled his hair and scratched him. He testified that when Grossman grabbed his hair and scratched him, he pulled up her leg so Grossman would let him go. [Appellant] testified that he did not want to hurt Grossman. [Appellant] testified that he told other students about the incident because he did not want them to do what he did.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the juvenile court credited the testimony of Grossman and Kirksey. The juvenile court found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [Appellant] pulled Grossman's leg and intended to flip her. The juvenile court also found that the act of lifting Grossman's leg and flipping her was an intentional act. The juvenile court found [Appellant] guilty of [the aforementioned crimes]. The juvenile court then adjudicated [Appellant] delinquent. On July 5, 2013, the juvenile court held a disposition hearing at which time the juvenile court placed [Appellant] on probation and released him to the custody of his parents.

Juvenile Court Opinion, 9/26/2013, at 1-3 (citations omitted).

Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal, and both Appellant and the juvenile court complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925. Counsel for Appellant has filed an Anders brief and a motion to withdraw as counsel with this Court. Appellant has not filed a response.

As a preliminary matter, we address counsel's application to withdraw before reaching the merits of the issues raised in the brief. Commonwealth v. Rojas, 874 A.2d 638, 639 (Pa.Super. 2005) (quoting Commonwealth v. Smith, 700 A.2d 1301, 1303 (Pa.Super. 1997)) ("When faced with a purported Anders brief, this Court may not review the merits ...

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