Pennsylvania v. Williams (majority)Annotate this Case
Appellee Christopher Williams was convicted of first degree murder and subsequently sentenced to death for the murders of three men in September of 1989. The Supreme Court affirmed the sentence on direct appeal. Appellee then sought post-conviction relief. The PCRA court initially granted Appellee relief on a basis unrelated to this appeal. The Supreme Court subsequently reversed the PCRA court and remanded for disposition of Appellee's remaining claims. On remand, the PCRA court granted Appellee a new trial, finding that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate medical and forensic evidence and finding that appellate counsel likewise rendered ineffective assistance by failing to argue on appeal that the trial court erred when it limited cross-examination of the Commonwealth's expert witnesses. Thirty days after the PCRA court entered its order granting Appellee a new trial, the Commonwealth electronically filed with the Philadelphia County Clerk of Courts a notice of appeal and jurisdictional statement appealing the grant of a new trial to the Supreme Court. The Clerk sent the Commonwealth an electronic confirmation indicating that the notice of appeal was received. Nonetheless, the Clerk refrained from time-stamping the notice of appeal on that date. Instead, the following day, the Clerk informed the Commonwealth that its notice of appeal was defective because it was missing two docket numbers and/or because the Clerk's office preferred a separate notice for each of the three docket numbers contained therein. The Commonwealth filed an amended notice of appeal that the Clerk accepted and time-stamped upon receipt. Appellee filed a Motion to Quash the Commonwealth's appeal with the Supreme Court, arguing that the appeal was untimely because the Commonwealth failed to file it within thirty days of the PCRA court's order, assuming the Commonwealth filed its notice of appeal on the date the Clerk time-stamped the amended appeal. Appellee argued the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal because of the amended filing. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court found the Commonwealth's appeal as timely, and denied Appellee's Motion to Quash.