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

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By Burt Rose

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I thought that everyone would enjoy reading this footnote from the Opinion of Judge Wecht of theSuperior Court of Pennsylvania in the matter ofCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Michael BARNDT, Appellant, 2013 WL 3834621, 2013 PA Super 206, 904 EDA 2012 (July 25, 2013), an appeal from a PCRA Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Criminal Division, CP–48–CR–0003737–2010. The Panel was composed of Judges OLSON,  WECHT and COLVILLE.

FN13. At risk of digressing, we note that the Commonwealth has inserted into its brief a bald assertion of waiver, alleging generally that Appellant’s issues as stated to this Court were not fairly encompassed by those stated in the Rule 1925(b) statement Appellant filed in the trial court. Even a cursory comparison of Appellant’s Rule 1925(b) statement to the issues as presented to this Court would consume more effort than necessary to confirm the fatuousness of this claim. We urge practitioners before this Court to refrain from wasting the ink (or toner) necessary to make boilerplate assertions of waiver that are utterly frivolous.

The Court held, 2-1, that plea counsel has an obligation to render only accurate advice to his client about whatever collateral consequences of a guilty plea he chooses to address. In this case, counselrendered ineffective assistance in erroneously advising Appellant regarding the potential parole consequences of his guilty plea. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s order denying Appellant’s PCRA petition, and remanded for the trial court to permit Appellant to withdraw his guilty plea.

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