A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

By Burt Rose

A panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has decided the case of COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Thomas C. WILLIAMSON, Appellant, 2011 WL 1962601, 2011 PA Super 111, No. 1359 WDA 2010 (May 23, 2011), an appeal from a PCRA Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Criminal Division, No. CP–20–CR–0000344–2004. The case was before Judges STEVENS, LAZARUS and PLATT.

Judge Lazarus wrote that when a defendant learns that his attorney has abandoned him, in this case by failing to file a timely Petition for Allowance of Appeal, he has 60 days to file a PCRA petition seeking reinstatement of that right. If he does not comply with that deadline, he cannot obtain collateral relief on equitable circumstances. In this case, the attorney wrote to Williamson in a January 20, 2009 letter and informed him that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania had rejected his petition for allowance of appeal because he (counsel) had untimely filed the petition. As such, under section 9545(b)(2), Williamson had until the end of March 2009 to file a pro se PCRA petition raising counsel’s ineffectiveness. Since he did not file a PCRA until December 2009, the court had no jurisdiction in the matter.

Therefore, the Order of dismissal was affirmed.

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