Petition for Permission to Appeal filed February 14, 2019,
from the November 26, 2018 Order, as Amended by the January
15, 2019 Order In the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County
Criminal Division at Nos: CP-14-CR-1377-2017;
CP-14-CR-0781-2018; CP1-4-CR-1536-2018; CP-14-CR-1389-2017;
BEFORE: STABILE, McLAUGHLIN, and COLINS, [*] JJ.
Daniel Casey and Brendan Young, seek permission to appeal
from the trial court's interlocutory pre-trial order
upholding the constitutionality of the anti-hazing statute,
24 P.S. § 5353. As per the caption above, each Petitioner
faces criminal charges at three separate docket numbers. With
this single, joint petition, Petitioners seek permission to
appeal from six orders (one per docket). In Commonwealth
v. Walker, 185 A.3d 969 (Pa. 2018), our Supreme Court
held that the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure
require separate notices of appeal from orders entered at
separate dockets. The Walker Court also directed
that Rule 312 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate
Procedure,  which governs permissive appeals from
interlocutory orders, be conformed to its holding. We deny
the instant petition in accord with Walker.
charges in this case arise out of Petitioners' alleged
conduct at fraternity pledging events. Petitioners filed
pre-trial motions arguing that the anti-hazing statute
creates an unconstitutional mandatory presumption in the
Commonwealth's favor and that the statute is vague and
overbroad. On November 26, 2018, the trial court entered
orders denying relief on the constitutional argument but
granting, in part, Petitioners' motions to suppress
evidence. On January 15, 2019, the trial court
amended its order to reflect its opinion that the
constitutionality of the anti-hazing statute "involves a
controlling question of law as to which there is substantial
ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal
from the order may materially advance the ultimate
termination of the matter[, ]" as per 42 Pa.C.S.A.
§ 702(b). This timely petition pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 312
and 1311(b) followed. Because we conclude the petition
is fatally deficient under Walker, we do not reach
the merits of Petitioners' arguments.
Walker, the Commonwealth filed a single notice of
appeal from an order disposing of four suppression motions
from four defendants at four separate dockets.
Walker, 185 A.3d at 971. The defendants, who were
together in a vehicle when police stopped it, argued that
police lacked reasonable suspicion. Id. The trial
court agreed, and the Commonwealth filed an interlocutory
appeal as of right pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 311(d). Id.
at 971-72. In holding that the Commonwealth's single
notice of appeal was improper, our Supreme Court looked both
to the Official Comment and the Official Note to Pa.R.A.P.
The Court observed that the Official Comment provides a
necessary clarification to Rule 341(a) by setting forth a
bright-line requirement for future cases: "Where . . .
one or more orders resolves issues arising on more than one
docket or relating to more than one judgment, separate
notices of appeals must be filed." Id. at 976
(quoting Pa.R.A.P. 341, Official Comment). Likewise, it
observed the Official Note to Rule 341 provides a bright-line
mandatory instruction to practitioners to file separate
notices of appeal. Id. at 976-77. The Court declined
to follow Gen. Elec. Credit Corp. v. Aetna Cas. and Sur.
Co., 263 A.2d 448 (Pa. 1970), which held that a single
appeal from multiple orders may be permissible where, among
other things, the issues involved are substantially identical
(as is the case instantly). The Walker Court
therefore concluded "[g]iven the clarification provided
by the amendment to the Official Note, the proper practice
under Rule 341(a) is to file separate appeals from an order
that resolves issues arising on more than one docket. The
failure to do so requires the appellate court to quash the
appeal." Id. at 977.
the Walker Court rejected the Commonwealth's
contention that the Official Note to Rule 341 did not apply
to its interlocutory appeal filed under Rule 311(d).
Id. at 975 n.3. The Court found the argument
unpersuasive, as the Commonwealth had not presented any
compelling argument as to why the rules relating to filing
multiple appeals should differ under Rules 311(d) and 341(a).
Id. Consonant with this conclusion, the
Walker Court further directed its Appellate
Procedural Rules Committee to amend the language of the
Official Note to Rule 341 to state explicitly the requirement
that separate notices of appeal must be filed when a single
order resolves issues arising on more than one lower court
docket. It also directed that the rules relating to
interlocutory appeals (Pa.R.A.P. 311-313) be conformed to
Rule 341 in this regard. Id. The instant petition,
as explained above, comes to us pursuant to Rule 312. We
therefore conclude that Walker is controlling here
and that Petitioners' failure to file a separate appeal
petition for each docket number is fatal to their petition
for permission to appeal.
Colins joins the opinion.
McLaughlin files a concurring opinion.
with the denial of the petition for permission to appeal, but
reach that conclusion by a slightly different route ...