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[U] Commonwealth v. Cameron

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 20, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
KENNETH R. CAMERON, SUPERINTENDANT SCI CRESSON, MORRIS L. HOUSER, COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS PROGRAM MANAGER SANDRA GERULA, RECORDS SUPERVISOR, AppelleesAPPEAL OF: GLUE WILKINS, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order Entered January 30, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-11-MD-0000261-2012

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., BOWES, and WECHT, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

BOWES, J.

Glue Wilkins appeals from the January 30, 2013 order affirming the denial of Appellant's private criminal complaint by the Office of the District Attorney of Cambria County ("District Attorney"). We affirm.

Appellant sought approval from the District Attorney to file a private criminal complaint against various officials of the Department of Corrections. Appellant maintained that the named defendants were guilty of kidnapping and various lesser-included offenses in that they were keeping him incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution in Cresson despite the fact that his sentencing order was illegal. The District Attorney declined to prosecute the matter due to the fact that the named defendants lacked the requisite mens rea to commit the crimes in question. The District Attorney noted that Appellant admitted that the defendants were keeping Appellant imprisoned based upon a sentencing order and that Appellant had to challenge the validity of the order through other means. Appellant thereafter sought review in the trial court of the District Attorney's refusal to permit the filing of his private criminal complaint. This appeal followed the trial court's affirmance of the District Attorney's decision.

Initially, we note that Appellant's brief is not in conformity with the rules of appellate procedure and is largely indecipherable. The document does not contain a separate statement of the issues raised on appeal, and Appellant's allegations consist of attacks on the propriety of the sentencing order under which he is being imprisoned rather than the rationale for the District Attorney's rejection of his complaint. Nevertheless, we will review the propriety of the order in question. We first recite the applicable standard of review.

It is settled that following the receipt of a petition to review the Commonwealth's decision to disapprove a private criminal complaint, the court must determine whether the Commonwealth's rationale for disapproving the private criminal complaint is for purely legal reasons or if it is based solely or in part on policy considerations. In re Wilson, 879 A.2d 199 (Pa.Super. 2005) (en banc). When the Commonwealth's disapproval is based wholly on legal considerations, the court employs a de novo review. Id. at 215, 218. Where the decision includes or is entirely based on policy considerations, the trial court reviews the Commonwealth's determination under an abuse of discretion standard. Id.

Braman v. Corbett, 19 A.3d 1151, 1157 (Pa.Super. 2011). Our standard of review is identical to that of the trial court. Commonwealth ex rel. Guarrasi v. Carroll, 979 A.2d 383 (Pa.Super. 2009).

A decision not to prosecute based on the defendant's lack of criminal intent is a legal consideration subject to de novo review. Id.; see also In re Wilson, supra at 212 ("Where the district attorney's denial of a private criminal complaint is based on a legal evaluation of the evidence, the trial court undertakes a de novo review of the matter.").

Based on our de novo review, we conclude that the trial court properly affirmed. The Department of Corrections and its officials cannot act with criminal intent when they possess a sentencing order, whether or not the prisoner contends that the order in question is invalid. Commonwealth ex rel. Guarrasi v. Carroll, supra (affirming that there was no evidence that detective involved in criminal case brought against Appellant acted with criminal intent despite allegations that detective tampered with evidence and destroyed records). Appellant's remedy is to seek post-conviction relief from the order under which he is being held.

Motion for Judicial Notice filed by Appellant is denied. Motion for Sanctions filed by Appellant is denied. Order affirmed.

Judgment Entered.


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