from the Judgment of Sentence April 13, 2017 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Bradford County Criminal Division at No.:
BEFORE: OLSON, J., DUBOW, J., and STRASSBURGER, J. [*]
Clarence Beaudoin IV, appeals from the Judgment of Sentence
entered by the Bradford County Court of Common Pleas after a
jury convicted him of Theft by Unlawful Taking and Receiving
Stolen Property.After careful review, we dismiss the appeal
due to Appellant's recent death.
December 18, 2017, Appellant's attorney, Richard A.
Wilson, Esq., filed a "Suggestion of Death"
pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 502 informing this Court that Appellant
had died. Counsel also advised that Appellant did not have a
significant estate, counsel did not expect an estate would be
opened, and there is no other personal representative. Given
these facts, counsel informed this Court that he was not
"comfortable withdrawing the appeal or taking any action
on it whatsoever." Suggestion of Death, dated 12/18/17,
January 18, 2018, this Court issued a Rule to Show Cause
directing the parties (1) to explain why the appeal should
not be dismissed as moot; and (2) to substantiate the
Suggestion of Death. Rule to Show Cause Order, filed 1/18/18,
January 30, 2018, Appellant's counsel and the
Commonwealth filed a joint letter stipulating that Appellant
"became deceased on or about November 20, 2017."
Stipulation, filed 1/30/18, at 1. On February 14, 2018, the
Commonwealth submitted a Confirmation of Death from the
Bradford County Office of the Coroner and in a letter argued
that the instant appeal should be dismissed as moot.
Commonwealth's Response, filed 2/14/18, at 1-2.
Rule of Appellate Procedure 502 provides, in relevant part,
as follows: "If a party dies after a notice of appeal .
. . is filed or while a matter is otherwise pending in an
appellate court, . . . [and] the deceased party has no
representative, any party may suggest the death on the record
and proceedings shall then be had as the appellate court may
direct." Pa.R.A.P. 502(a).
Court and our Supreme Court have occasionally addressed the
merits of a defendant's appeal following his or her death
when the interests of justice so require. See
Commonwealth v. Walker, 288 A.2d 741 (Pa. 1972)
(affirming judgment of sentence where parties disagreed about
proper resolution, stating in a footnote "that it is in
the interest of both a defendant's estate and society
that any challenge initiated by a defendant to the regularity
or constitutionality of a criminal proceeding be fully
reviewed and decided by the appellate process.");
Commonwealth v. Bizzaro, 535 A.2d 1130, 1132 (Pa.
Super. 1987) (holding "that the death of an appellant
pending appeal does not moot the appeal[, ]" addressing
merits, and vacating judgment of sentence where
appellant's counsel specifically requested a ruling on
the merits at oral argument notwithstanding appellant's
death); Commonwealth v. Sargent, 385 A.2d 484, 484
n.1 (Pa. Super. 1978) (granting a new trial to a defendant
that had died); Commonwealth v. Culpepper, 293 A.2d
122, 124 n.3 (Pa. Super. 1972) (en banc) (addressing
merits of appeal and vacating judgment of sentence despite
Appellant's death pending appeal where appellant's
counsel requested that the court decide the appeal in the
interest of justice). But see Commonwealth v.
Crowley, 28 Pa. Super. 618 (1905) (abating appeal where
defendant died pending appeal); Commonwealth v.
Dunn, 57 Pa. Super. 162 (1914) (same, collecting cases).
the unique circumstances presented in the above cases, we are
not compelled or required to reach the merits of this appeal
because (1) the interests of justice are not markedly
implicated in this matter; (2) Appellant's appeal does
not present any novel legal issues of import to society
generally; and (3) no party has asked this Court to
decide the appeal notwithstanding Appellant's death. This
conclusion is consistent with the ample discretion afforded
this Court under Pa.R.A.P. 502(a). See Bizzaro,
supra at 1132 ("The open-endedness of this Rule is
one on behalf of either party seeks to pursue this appeal,
and in the interest of judicial economy, we dismiss this
appeal pursuant to Rule 502(a).