February 24, 2014
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
TODD STORM, Appellant
Appeal from the PCRA Order July 23, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-45-CR-0001442-2011.
BEFORE: ALLEN, STABILE, and STRASSBURGER [*] , JJ.
Todd Storm (Appellant) appeals from the July 23, 2013 order which denied his petition for relief filed pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 9541-9546. Additionally, Appellant's former attorney, Michael A. Ventrella, Esquire, has filed with this Court a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), and Commonwealth v. Santiago, 978 A.2d 349 (Pa. 2009), in which he requests permission to withdraw as counsel. After review, we deny counsel's request to withdraw as moot and remand with instructions to Appellant's current attorney, Hillary Madden, Esquire.
On May 2, 2012, Appellant pled guilty to arson (reckless burning or exploding). Appellant was sentenced to 39 to 84 months of incarceration on July 13, 2012. Appellant timely filed a motion for reconsideration of sentence, which was denied. Appellant did not file a direct appeal.
On July 30, 2012, Appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, which was treated as a timely filed pro se PCRA petition. Attorney Ventrella was appointed to represent Appellant, and an amended PCRA petition was filed. An evidentiary hearing was held on December 14, 2012. On May 2, 2013, Appellant filed a pro se notice of appeal while still represented by Attorney Ventrella. This Court entered a per curiam order on July 15, 2013, which quashed the appeal as interlocutory.
Appellant's PCRA petition was denied on July 23, 2013. Attorney Ventrella timely filed a second notice of appeal. The PCRA court ordered Appellant to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal, and Appellant, through Attorney Ventrella, timely complied.
On November 8, 2013, Attorney Ventrella filed with this Court an Anders brief, wherein he asserted that Appellant's appeal was wholly frivolous and requested this Court's permission to withdraw. Anders Brief at 8. However, on January 7, 2014, before we ruled on Appellant's appeal and Attorney Ventrella's request to withdraw, Attorney Ventrella filed with this Court a simultaneous withdrawal of appearance as to himself, and entry of appearance as to a new attorney, Attorney Madden. A review of the docket reveals that on December 30, 2013, the PCRA court appointed Attorney Madden as Appellant's new PCRA counsel.
Given that Attorney Ventrella has already withdrawn from the case, we deny his request to withdraw as moot. Further, Appellant's new counsel, Attorney Madden, is directed to file, within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, either an advocate's brief, or a no-merit letter and petition to withdraw in compliance with Turner/Finley. The Commonwealth will then have an additional 30 days to file a responsive brief.
Request to withdraw denied. Case remanded with instructions. Panel jurisdiction retained.