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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 52 Pa.B. 8372 (December 31, 2022).

210 Pa. Code Rule 121. Filing and Service.

Rule 121. Filing and Service.

 (a)  Filing.—Papers required or permitted to be filed in an appellate court shall be filed with the prothonotary. Filing may be accomplished by mail addressed to the prothonotary, but except as otherwise provided by these rules, filing shall not be timely unless the papers are received by the prothonotary within the time fixed for filing. If an application under these rules requests relief which may be granted by a single judge, a judge in extraordinary circumstances may permit the application and any related papers to be filed with that judge. In that event the judge shall note thereon the date of filing and shall thereafter transmit such papers to the clerk.

 (b)  Service of all papers required.—Copies of all papers filed by any party and not required by these rules to be served by the prothonotary shall, concurrently with their filing, be served by a party or person acting on behalf of that party or person on all other parties to the matter. Service on a party represented by counsel shall be made on counsel.

 (c)  Manner of service.—Service may be:

   (1)  by personal service, which includes delivery of the copy to a clerk or other responsible person at the office of the person served, but does not include inter-office mail;

   (2)  by first class, express, or priority United States Postal Service mail, which service is complete upon mailing;

   (3)  by commercial carrier with delivery intended to be at least as expeditious as first class mail if the carrier can verify the date of delivery to it; or

   (4)  by facsimile or e-mail with the agreement of the party being served as stated in the certificate of service.

 (d)  Proof of service.—Papers presented for filing shall contain an acknowledgement of service by the person served or proof of service certified by the person who made service. Acknowledgement or proof of service may appear on or be affixed to the papers filed. The clerk may permit papers to be filed without acknowledgement or proof of service but shall require such to be filed promptly thereafter.

 (e)  Additional time after service by mail and commercial carrier.—Whenever a party is required or permitted to do an act within a prescribed period after service of a paper upon that party (other than an order of a court or other government unit) and the paper is served by United States mail or by commercial carrier, three days shall be added to the prescribed period.

 (f)  Date of filing for incarcerated persons.—A pro se filing submitted by a person incarcerated in a correctional facility is deemed filed as of the date of the prison postmark or the date the filing was delivered to the prison authorities for purposes of mailing as documented by a properly executed prisoner cash slip or other reasonably verifiable evidence.

 (g)  Hybrid representation.—Where there is counsel of record, a party may file only the following documents pro se: (i) a notice of appeal; (ii) a request to change or remove counsel; (iii) a response to a motion to withdraw that has been filed by counsel of record; (iv) a complaint that existing counsel has abandoned the party; or (v) an application to file a petition for allowance of appeal nunc pro tunc. Any other document that a party attempts to file pro se will be noted on the docket but not accepted for filing. This rule is not intended to provide an independent basis for jurisdiction where it does not otherwise exist.

   Official Note

   Paragraph (a)—The term ‘‘related papers’’ in paragraph (a) of this rule includes any appeal papers required by Pa.R.A.P. 1702 (stay ancillary to appeal) as a prerequisite to an application for a stay or similar relief.

   Paragraph (c)—An acknowledgement of service may be executed by an individual other than the person served, e.g., by a clerk or other responsible person.

   Paragraph (d)—With respect to appearances by new counsel following the initial docketing of appearances pursuant to paragraph (d) of this rule, please note the requirements of Pa.R.A.P. 120 (entry of appearance).

   Paragraph (e)—Paragraph (e) of the rule does not apply to the filing of a notice of appeal, a petition for allowance of appeal, a petition for permission to appeal, or a petition for reconsideration or reargument, since under these rules the time for filing such papers runs from the entry and service of the related order, nor to the filing of a petition for review or a petition for specialized review, which are governed by similar considerations. The amendments to Pa.R.A.P. 903(b), 1113(b), and 1512(a)(2) clarified that paragraph (e) does apply to calculating the deadline for filing cross-appeals, cross-petitions for allowance of appeal, and additional petitions for review or specialized review.

   Paragraph (f)—This recognizes the holding in Smith v. Board of Probation and Parole, 683 A.2d 278, 281 (Pa. 1996) (adopting the prisoner mailbox rule to determine date of filing of a petition for review). Smith adopted the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court in Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 270-71 (1988). See also Commonwealth v. Jones, 700 A.2d 423, 426 (Pa. 1997) (extending prisoner mailbox rule to filing of a notice of appeal).

   Paragraph (g)—The rule on hybrid representation is premised on Commonwealth v. Ellis, 626 A.2d 1137, 1139-40 (Pa. 1993). See 210 Pa. Code §  65.24. If a pro se notice of appeal is filed, it will satisfy the timeliness requirement for the filing of a notice of appeal. Counsel of record will, however, be obligated to prosecute that appeal. There are four other instances in which pro se documents will be accepted by an appellate court for filing: a request by the party to change or remove counsel; a response to counsel’s request to withdraw; a complaint that existing counsel has abandoned the party; and a pro se petition for nunc pro tunc permission to file a petition for allowance of appeal under Pa.R.A.P. 1113(d). All other documents will be noted on the docket as received by the appellate court prothonotary’s office but will not be accepted for filing; instead, the pro se document will be forwarded to counsel of record with, if the court desires, direction for counsel to respond.


   The provisions of this Rule 121 amended July 7, 1997, effective in 60 days, 27 Pa.B. 3503; amended March 15, 2004, effective 60 days after adoption, 34 Pa.B. 1670; amended September 10, 2008, effective December 1, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 5257; amended April 9, 2012, effective in 30 days, 42 Pa.B. 2269; amended January 7, 2020, effective May 1, 2020, 50 Pa.B. 535; amended January 7, 2020, effective August 1, 2020, 50 Pa.B. 505. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (400744) to (400746).

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