Exceptions to a Forfeiture Determination

Commonwealth v. Adams2016 WL 4698914 (Pa. Super. Apr. 27, 2017) (unreported), allocatur granted Nov. 20, 2017, appeal docket 36 EAP 2017

After a trial in absentia, Defendant was convicted of various violent crimes.  Defendant remained a fugitive during his appeal period.  His attorney timely filed a notice of appeal.  The trial court found Defendant had waived all issues on appeal because he was a fugitive during the trial and 30-day appeal period.

The Superior Court upheld the trial court’s ruling, holding that even though Defendant was now in custody he had waived all issues on appeal due to his fugitive status during the trial and 30-day appeal period.  Relying on a Superior Court panel decision in Commonwealth v. Doty, 997 A.2d 1184 (Pa. Super. 2010), the Superior Court applied the rule that a defendant’s status during the 30-day appeal period controls whether an appellate court will hear his appeal (not whether an appeal was in fact timely filed).

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine:

Was it not error for the Superior Court automatically to dismiss petitioner’s appeal without a merits review when this Court’ consistent jurisprudence allows exceptions to a forfeiture determination and petitioner’s circumstances track those exceptions?

For more information, contact Kevin McKeon or Dennis Whitaker.