from the PCRA Order Entered January 4, 2019 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at
No(s): CP-51-CR-0006484-2014, CP-51-CR-0006485-2014
BEFORE: BOWES, J., SHOGAN, J., and STRASSBURGER, J. [*]
J. Stansbury appeals pro se from the order that
dismissed his petition filed pursuant to the Post Conviction
Relief Act ("PCRA"). We affirm.
relate a concise summary of the history of this case.
Appellant drove up to a home in Philadelphia and fired shots
at two individuals sitting on the porch: Abdul Scott, his
brother, and Rachel Ostrow, a resident of the building.
Appellant was charged with various crimes related to the
incident at two separate docket numbers: one as to victim
Scott (CP-51-CR-0006485-2014) and one as to victim Ostrow
cases proceeded to a consolidated trial, at which Appellant
exercised his right to represent himself. After a mistrial
and a second trial, a jury convicted Appellant of two counts
of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and
other firearm-related crimes. Appellant was sentenced to an
aggregate term of thirty-five to seventy years of
incarceration, followed by seven years of probation.
Appellant's pro se direct appeal, involving both
lower-court docket numbers, resulted in no relief.
Commonwealth v. Stansbury, 190 A.3d 719 (Pa.Super.
filed a timely pro se PCRA petition docketed in both
cases. Therein, he raised two claims regarding evidence at
his trial: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to
establish his identity as the shooter, and (2) that the trial
court abused its discretion in denying his motion in
limine to exclude the 911 telephone call during which
Appellant was identified as the shooter. PCRA Petition,
5/15/18, at ¶¶ 12-13. The PCRA court appointed
counsel pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 904(C).
filed a no-merit letter, captioned at both docket numbers,
and requested to withdraw pursuant to Commonwealth v.
Turner, 544 A.2d 927 (Pa. 1988), and Commonwealth v.
Finley, 550 A.2d 213 (Pa.Super. 1988) (en
banc). Counsel indicated that the issues Appellant
wished to raise could not afford relief because they were
previously-litigated on direct appeal, and, further, that
Appellant could not raise the claims under the guise of
ineffective assistance of counsel because Appellant had
represented himself. No-Merit Letter, 11/7/18, at unnumbered
2. In a single document including both case numbers, the PCRA
court advised Appellant of his right to respond to
counsel's letter pro se or with
privately-retained counsel, and issued notice of its intent
to dismiss Appellant's petition without a hearing
pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 907. Rule 907 Notice, 11/7/18.
Appellant filed a pro se response, listing both
docket numbers, in which he indicated that he had desired to
proceed pro se all along, contended that his issues
are meritorious, and claimed that there were factual disputes
that warranted a hearing. Objection to Rule 907 Notice,
January 4, 2019, the PCRA court entered a single order, at
both criminal case docket numbers under one caption,
dismissing Appellant's PCRA petition and granting
counsel's request to withdraw. The order contained the
following language pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P.
907(4): "[Appellant] is hereby advised that
he has thirty days from this day, to file a
written notice of appeal to the Superior
Court. Said notice of appeal must be filed
with the Clerk of Courts of Philadelphia County-Criminal
Division. . . ." Order, 1/4/19 (emphases added).
Appellant timely complied with the PCRA court's
directions by filing a single notice of appeal listing both
cases' docket numbers.
Court issued a rule to show cause why the appeal should not
be quashed pursuant to our Supreme Court's holding in
Commonwealth v. Walker, 185 A.3d 969 (Pa. 2018). In
that case, the High Court held that an appeal must be quashed
if an appellant fails to file separate notices of appeal at
each docket number implicated by an order resolving issues
that involve more than one trial court docket will result in
quashal of the appeal, as is the procedure indicated in the
Note to Pa.R.A.P. 341. The Walker Court acknowledged
that its decision "was contrary to decades of case law
from this Court and the intermediate appellate
courts[.]" Walker, supra at 974, 977.
Hence, the Court held that its ruling applied only
prospectively, and directed that the Rules be amended to
comport with the Walker decision. Id. at
filed a response to the rule to show cause in which he
indicated, inter alia, that the PCRA court
"failed to advise the pro se Appellant of the
defect and afford the Appellant an opportunity to correct the
defect." Response to Rule to Show Cause, 2/25/19. As a
result, the rule was discharged and the issue referred to the
merits panel for consideration. Order, 6/18/19.
before we may delve into the substance of Appellant's
appeal, we must determine whether Walker and its
progeny mandate quashal. At the time Appellant requested the
opportunity to correct the defect in his notice of appeal,
time had expired for him to file timely,
Walker-compliant notices of appeal. See
Pa.R.A.P. 903(a) (providing notice of appeal "shall be
filed within 30 days after the entry of the order from which
the appeal is taken"). This Court generally has no
authority to extend the time for filing a notice of appeal.
See Pa.R.A.P. 105(b) ("An appellate court for
good cause shown may upon application enlarge the time
prescribed by these rules or by its order for doing any act,
or may permit an act to be done after the expiration of such
time, but the court may not enlarge the time for filing a
notice of appeal . . . .").
it has long been the law of this Commonwealth that the
failure to file a timely appeal as a result of a breakdown in
the court system is an exception to that general rule.
See, e.g., Commonwealth v.
Braykovich, 664 A.2d 133, 136-38 (Pa.Super. 1995)
(discussing cases and holding failure of clerk of courts to
advise defendant that his post-sentence motion had been
denied by operation of law excused late-filed appeal).
many times declined to quash an appeal when the defect
resulted from an appellant's acting in accordance with
misinformation relayed to him by the trial court.
See, e.g., Commonwealth v.
Flowers, 149 A.3d 867, 872 (Pa.Super. 2016) (holding
breakdown in court operation granted this Court jurisdiction
over untimely appeal where trial court failed to correct
counsel's misstatement about deadline for filing appeal
and incorrectly provided that the appellant had an additional
thirty days to appeal from order denying motion for
reconsideration of sentenced imposed upon revocation of
intermediate punishment); Commonwealth v. Patterson,
940 A.2d 493, 498 (Pa.Super. 2007) (compiling cases in which
the "courts of this Commonwealth have held that a court
breakdown occurred in instances where the trial court, at the
time of sentencing, either failed to advise Appellant of his
post-sentence and appellate rights or misadvised him");
Commonwealth v. Parlante, 823 A.2d 927, 929
(Pa.Super. 2003) ("[W]e decline to quash this appeal