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Commonwealth v. Reid

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 9, 2015


Submitted, March 9, 2015

Page 778

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 779

Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence January 16, 2014, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, No(s): CP-51-CR-0003040-2010. Before ROGERS, J.

Anthony Reid, appellant, pro se.

Hugh J. Burns, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.



Page 780


Appellant Anthony Reid (" Appellant" ) appeals from the January 16, 2014 judgment of sentence in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas following his guilty plea convictions for attempted murder,[1] assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree,[2] and aggravated assault.[3] Appellant's counsel has filed an Anders[4] brief, together with a petition to withdraw as counsel. We affirm the judgment of sentence and grant counsel's petition to withdraw.

The trial court summarized the events underlying Appellant's convictions as follows:

On the morning of September 4, 2009, Appellant and his co-defendant, Brian Williams (" Williams" ), ran out of the Sunoco gas station at 52nd and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia. Officer Julius Cesar observed that the men were armed and carrying a bag of money. Both men jumped into a get-away car and fled the scene. Officer Cesar engaged in a high-speed pursuit of the two defendants through the city. As Appellant was driving, Williams leaned out the passenger window and fired at Officer Cesar's vehicle, which struck the car's front grille -- the officer was not injured. Both men continued to elude police until crashing into a parked car at 63rd and Grays Avenue. At that time, multiple officers converged on the scene. Appellant opened the driver's door and opened fire at the officers. The police returned fire, and during the exchange of bullets, Officer Adrian Hospetale was struck in the mouth. Both Appellant and Williams were immediately apprehended. A search of the vehicle revealed two (2) loaded firearms and $100,000 in cash.

Trial Court Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) Opinion, filed November 24, 2014 (" 1925(a) Opinion" ), p. 2.

On March 21, 2011, Appellant pleaded guilty to the aforementioned charges. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, on January 16, 2014, the trial court sentenced Appellant to 10 to 20 years' incarceration on the attempted murder conviction,[5] 20 to 40 years' incarceration on the assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree conviction[6] concurrent to the attempted murder conviction, and 5 to 10 years' incarceration for the aggravated assault conviction to be served consecutive to the attempted murder and assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree convictions, for an aggregate total of 25 to 50 years' incarceration.[7] On January 24, 2014, Appellant filed a pro se post-trial motion to reconsider sentence that was denied by operation of law on June 11, 2014. Appellant filed a notice of appeal on July 2, 2014.[8]

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On August 18, 2014, Appellant's appointed counsel filed a statement of intent to file an Anders brief pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(c)(4). The trial court filed its 1925(a) Opinion on November 24, 2014.

As previously noted, Appellant's counsel has filed an application seeking to withdraw from representation pursuant to Anders v. California and its Pennsylvania counterpart, Commonwealth v. Santiago.[9] Before addressing the merits of Appellant's underlying issue presented, we must first pass on counsel's petition to withdraw. Commonwealth v. Goodwin, 2007 PA Super 180, 928 A.2d 287, 290 (Pa.Super.2007) ( en banc ).

Prior to withdrawing as counsel on a direct appeal under Anders, counsel must file a brief that meets the requirements established by our Supreme Court in Santiago. The brief must:

(1) provide a summary of the procedural history and facts, with citations to the record; (2) refer to anything in the record that counsel believes arguably supports the appeal; (3) set forth counsel's conclusion that the appeal is frivolous; and (4) state counsel's reasons for concluding that the appeal is frivolous. Counsel should articulate the relevant facts of record, controlling case law, and/or statutes on point that have led to the conclusion that the appeal is frivolous.

Santiago, 978 A.2d at 361. Counsel must also provide the appellant with a copy of the Anders brief, together with a letter that advises the appellant of his or her right to " (1) retain new counsel to pursue the appeal; (2) proceed pro se on appeal; or (3) raise any points that the appellant deems worthy of the court's attention in addition to the points raised by counsel in the Anders brief." Commonwealth v. Nischan, 2007 PA Super 199, 928 A.2d 349, 353 (Pa.Super.2007). Substantial compliance with these requirements is sufficient. Commonwealth v. Wrecks, 2007 PA Super 301, 934 A.2d 1287, 1290 (Pa.Super.2007). " After establishing that the antecedent requirements have been met, this Court must then make an independent evaluation of the record to determine whether the appeal is, in fact, wholly frivolous." Commonwealth v. Palm, 2006 PA Super 180, 903 A.2d 1244, 1246 (Pa.Super.2006).

Instantly, counsel contemporaneously filed a petition to withdraw as counsel with the Anders brief. The petition states that counsel determined, after communicating with Appellant about the appeal, independently and conscientiously reviewing the record, and conducting appropriate legal research into possible issues, that no non-frivolous issues exist to be raised on appeal. See Petition to Withdraw As Counsel, ¶ ¶ 8-9. The petition further explains ...

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