from the PCRA Order Entered March 27, 2018 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at
No(s): CP-51-CR-0012317-2009, CP-51-CR-0014137-2012
BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., McLAUGHLIN, J., and STEVENS [*] , P.J.E.
Bankhead appeals from the order dismissing as untimely his
Petition filed under the Post Conviction Relief Act
("PCRA"), 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 9541-9546. We
was convicted by a jury of one count of aggravated assault
and two counts of criminal solicitation. The underlying
facts of these crimes are not relevant to our disposition.
The court sentenced Bankhead in 2014 to serve an aggregate of
25 to 50 years' incarceration. We affirmed Bankhead's
judgment of sentence in 2015, and the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court denied Bankhead's petition for allowance of appeal
on April 11, 2016. Bankhead did not file a petition for a
writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the
filed the instant PCRA Petition, his first, as of November
10, 2017. The petition alleged, inter alia,
that the Commonwealth had knowingly solicited false testimony
from the complaining witness at trial, as evidenced by her
admissions that she had lied to the police during their
investigation. He also claimed that her testimony about the
assault was contradicted by medical records that the
prosecution withheld, and that he was denied effective
assistance of counsel at trial.
PCRA court appointed counsel, who filed a no-merit letter
pursuant to Commonwealth v. Finley, 550 A.2d 213
(Pa.Super. 1988), and a motion to withdraw. In the
Finley letter, counsel advised Bankhead that his
petition was untimely under the PCRA. Counsel stated that
although Bankhead had asserted that several lockdowns at the
prison had prevented him from accessing the prison library,
and that this might render the petition timely under the
governmental interference exception, counsel's research
indicated these lockdowns occurred after the one-year
deadline for filing the petition.
PCRA court issued notice under Rule 907, advising Bankhead
that his Petition would be dismissed without a hearing.
See Pa.R.Crim.P. 907. Bankhead filed a pro
se response, asserting his PCRA counsel was ineffective
for failing to research or promote his substantive PCRA
claims. Bankhead's pro se response to the Rule
907 notice did not address the timeliness of his Petition.
court thereafter dismissed the petition, but took no action
on counsel's request to withdraw. Bankhead filed a
timely, pro se notice of appeal. Counsel
thereafter filed a Rule 1925 Statement of Errors on
Bankhead's behalf. See Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b).
then filed a pro se motion in this Court, asking to
represent himself on appeal. We remanded the matter to the
PCRA court to hold a hearing to ensure that Bankhead's
waiver of his right to counsel was knowing, intelligent, and
voluntary. The PCRA court held a hearing, and found Bankhead
had duly waived his right to counsel. Counsel thereafter
filed a request to withdraw in this Court; we granted
counsel's request to withdraw and allowed Bankhead to
proceed pro se.
presents the following question, which we reproduce verbatim:
The question of whether a person may be said to actually have
the time stated by legislative intent, specifically the
one-year jurisdictional time bar of the PCRA, is subjective.
Arguments have been thrown out which cited the difference
between an uneducated Pro-Se defendant and one represented by
counsel due to the general reasoning that the benefits of a
legal education and a lawyer[']s resources are
counter-balanced by a defendant's ability to research and
prepare arguments on his own behalf. Perfect equality, after
all, is not tolling not being applicable to PCRA litigation,
the wholesale prejudice suffered due to Governmental
Interference with legal matters, however, indifferent is
To permit the DOC to enact gratuitous lockdowns which
prejudice the legal interest of all inmates, in effect
punishing people (like Appellant), had nothing to do with the
cause of the lockdowns constitutes a gross miscarriage of
justice. Would tolling not be permitted if the courts were
closed due to a natural disaster? Lockdowns have already been
referred to as a state of emergency (as has the Drug abuse
which caused them). Thus, those ...