from the Order Entered November 7, 2018 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Westmoreland County Criminal Division at
No(s): CP-65-CR-0002804-2011, CP-65-CR-0002805-2011
BEFORE: OLSON, J., STABILE, J., and McLAUGHLIN, J.
Knecht appeals from an order denying his Post Conviction
Relief Act ("PCRA") petition. See 42
Pa.C.S.A. §§ 9541-9546. His counsel has filed
Turner/Finley brief and a petition to withdraw. We
affirm the denial of the PCRA petition and grant
counsel's request to withdraw.
pleaded guilty in February 2012 to multiple felonies,
including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a
child, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of
age, and 50 counts of possession of child
pornography. The court determined Knecht to be a
sexually violent predator ("SVP") and sentenced
Knecht in all to 12½ to 25 years in prison followed by
five years of probation.
years after sentencing, Knecht filed a pro se PCRA
petition. The court appointed counsel, who filed an amended
PCRA petition. The PCRA court ultimately dismissed the
petition as untimely, and Knecht appealed.
counsel subsequently filed a brief pursuant to
Turner/Finley and an application to withdraw as
counsel. The brief identifies the following issue:
Whether the holding in Commonwealth v. Muniz[, 164
A.3d 1189 (Pa. 2017),] finding SORNA to be violative of the
constitutional right to be free of penal ex post
facto laws[,] creates a constitutional right held to
apply retroactively, thereby vesting a trial court with
jurisdiction to rule on the merits of a PCRA petition filed
as an exception under 42 P[a.]C.S.A. § 9545(b)(1)(iii)?
Turner/Finley Br. at 7.
presented with a brief pursuant to Turner/Finley, we
first determine whether the brief meets the procedural
requirements of Turner/Finley. See Commonwealth
v. Wrecks, 931 A.2d 717, 721 (Pa.Super. 2007). A
Turner/Finley brief must: (1) detail the nature and
extent of counsel's review of the case; (2) list each
issue the petitioner wishes to have reviewed; and (3) explain
counsel's reasoning for concluding that the
petitioner's issues are meritless. Commonwealth v.
Pitts, 981 A.2d 875, 876 n.1 (Pa. 2009). Counsel must
also send a copy of the brief to the petitioner, along with a
copy of the petition to withdraw, and inform the petitioner
of the right to proceed pro se or to retain new
counsel. Wrecks, 931 A.2d at 721. If the brief meets
these requirements, we then conduct an independent review of
the petitioner's issues. Commonwealth v. Muzzy,
141 A.3d 509, 511 (Pa.Super. 2016).
counsel has substantially complied with the requirements of
Turner/Finley. The brief contains counsel's
certification that he conducted a "zealous and diligent
review" and found no meritorious issues. Counsel
explains the issue that Knecht desires to raise on appeal and
explains that he considers Knecht's issue to be meritless
because neither the Pennsylvania nor the United States
Supreme Court has declared Muniz to apply
retroactively. PCRA counsel filed a copy of the letter he
sent to Knecht, explaining why he finds that Knecht's
issue is meritless, and advising Knecht that he may proceed
pro se or retain private counsel.
proceed to an independent review of Knecht's issue.
Knecht contends that the PCRA court had jurisdiction because
Muniz applies retroactively. We agree with PCRA
counsel that this issue is meritless.
"retroactive right" timeliness exception applies
only if either the Supreme Court of the United States or the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has held that the right at
issue applies retroactively. 42 Pa.C.S.A. §
9545(b)(1)(iii); Commonwealth v. Abdul-Salaam, 812
A.2d 497, 501 (Pa. 2002). Knecht contends that we held
Muniz to apply retroactively in Commonwealth v.
Rivera-Figueroa, 174 A.3d 674, 678 (Pa.Super. 2017).
However, Rivera-Figueroa did not involve the
"retroactive right" timeliness exception. The PCRA
petition in that case was timely, and all we said in that
case was that a timely PCRA petition could access the right
announced in Muniz.
unlike the petitioner in Rivera-Figueroa, Knecht
seeks to invoke the "retroactive right" timeliness
exception. Because neither the United States Supreme Court
nor the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that
Muniz applies retroactively, Knecht is not eligible
for this timeliness ...