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

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By Burt Rose

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Bolick v. Com, 2013 WL 2397961, 2013 PA Super 135, 355 MDA 2012 (6/4/13) was an appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County, Civil Division, CV–07–441. The case was before Judges BOWESOLSON and WECHT, who wrote the Opinion.

Following the defendant’s conviction for burglary, the Court of Common Pleas, Northumberland County, Civil Division, denied his pro se “Motion to Vacate the Part of this Nunc Pro Tunc Judgment Dated September 29, 2009 That is Void and Reinstate the Valid Unappealed Final Order Which Was Rendered June 25, 2007.” He appealed pro se.

Judge Wecht wrote that for thirty years, this Appellant has persistently petitioned the trial courts, appellate courts, and federal courts in efforts to overturn his 1981 burglary conviction. The Court stated that in light of frivolous and vexatious litigation pursued by Appellant, he “has long abused the judicial process with repeated filings that raise issues decided previously”. The Court therefore barred Appellant’s future appeals raising claims already decided on the merits by the Superior Court.

While this litigation began in the criminal courts, this Appellant has sought relief in the civil courts since 2005. Accordingly, the Court also directed the parties’ attention to Pa.R.C.P. 233.1, which permits a court of common pleas to dismiss and bar frivolous pro se litigation at the prompting of a defendant. Upon the filing of an action by a pro se plaintiff, a defendant may file a motion to dismiss a pending action provided that the pro se plaintiff is alleging the same or related claims against the same or related defendants, and the claims have already been resolved pursuant to a settlement agreement or a court proceeding. The rule also gives the trial court discretion to bar the pro se litigant from filing further litigation against the same or related defendants raising the same or related claims without leave of court.

Thus the power to bar frivolous litigation at the trial court level rests with the trial court. Should Appellant again present any filing in this matter to the trial court, the Commonwealth may choose to file a motion with the trial court to dismiss the action and bar future litigation on the matter pursuant to Rule 233.1. The trial court will then have the discretion to bar future litigation, if it so chooses.

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