from the Order Entered December 15, 2015 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Luzerne County Criminal Division at No(s):
BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., STABILE, J., and DUBOW, J.
Joseph Michael Noss, appeals from the December 15, 2015
Order, which granted the Commonwealth's Petition for Writ
of Certiorari and vacated Appellant's guilty
plea. Upon careful review, we affirm.
16, 2015, Appellant was charged with Aggravated Assault, a
felony, Resisting Arrest, Simple Assault, and
Harassment following allegations that he engaged in a
violent argument with his paramour. Assistant District
Attorney ("ADA") Cara Solimine signed the Complaint
approving the charges. Police Officer Kara Kroll and Police
Officer Joseph Koch signed the Complaint as co-affiants.
Magistrate's Office initially scheduled the preliminary
hearing on July 22, 2015. On that date, Magisterial District
Judge ("MDJ") Donald Whittaker continued the
hearing until August 25, 2015, at the request of the
Nanticoke Police Chief. ADA Solimine was present.
August 20, 2015, ADA Solimine requested a continuance due to
a conflict in her schedule. MDJ Whittaker granted the
continuance and rescheduled the hearing to September 2, 2015,
at 2:15 PM.
September 2, 2015, at approximately 1:40 PM, Assistant Public
Defender ("PD") John Donovan informed MDJ Whittaker
that the parties had an agreement to present to MDJ
Whittaker. PD Donovan, Officer Kroll, and Appellant were
present. ADA Solimine was not present and no other ADA was
Donovan informed MDJ Whittaker that there was an agreement to
allow Appellant to plead guilty to a Disorderly Conduct
charge, a misdemeanor of the third degree, and to sentence
Appellant to time-served. MDJ Whittaker asked Officer Kroll
if she agreed to the "reduced charge" and she
responded in the affirmative. The parties did not address
whether the District Attorney's Office authorized the
guilty plea to a "reduced charge." MDJ Whittaker
accepted the agreement. Appellant pleaded guilty only to
Disorderly Conduct as a misdemeanor of the third
degree, and MDJ Whittaker sentenced Appellant to
approximately 2:15 PM, the scheduled time for the preliminary
hearing, both ADA Solimine and Officer Koch arrived to the
MDJ's office, where they were informed that the matter
September 18, 2015, the Commonwealth filed a Petition for
Writ of Certiorari, or in the alternative a Notice
December 15, 2015, after a review of the record, a hearing,
and oral argument, the trial court granted the Petition for
Writ of Certiorari, vacated Appellant's guilty
plea, and reinstated all charges.
timely appealed. Both Appellant and the trial court complied
with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.
raises the following issues on appeal:
1. Whether the trial court erred in finding [Appellant] pled
guilty to a "reduced charge" before the Magisterial
District Judge where the designee of the Commonwealth
withdrew charges and amended the Complaint to add a charge of