Rule 1925. Opinion in Support of Order.
(a) Opinion in support of order.
(1) General rule.Except as otherwise prescribed by this rule, upon receipt of the notice of appeal, the judge who entered the order giving rise to the notice of appeal, if the reasons for the order do not already appear of record, shall within the period set forth in Pa.R.A.P. 1931(a)(1) file of record at least a brief opinion of the reasons for the order, or for the rulings or other errors complained of, or shall specify in writing the place in the record where such reasons may be found.
If the case appealed involves a ruling issued by a judge who was not the judge entering the order giving rise to the notice of appeal, the judge entering the order giving rise to the notice of appeal may request that the judge who made the earlier ruling provide an opinion to be filed in accordance with the standards above to explain the reasons for that ruling.
(2) Childrens fast track appeals.In a childrens fast track appeal:
(i) The concise statement of errors complained of on appeal shall be filed and served with the notice of appeal.
(ii) Upon receipt of the notice of appeal and the concise statement of errors complained of on appeal required by Pa.R.A.P. 905(a)(2), the judge who entered the order giving rise to the notice of appeal, if the reasons for the order do not already appear of record, shall within 30 days file of record at least a brief opinion of the reasons for the order, or for the rulings or other errors complained of, which may, but need not, refer to the transcript of the proceedings.
(3) Appeals arising under the Pennsylvania Code of Military Justice.In an appeal arising under the Pennsylvania Code of Military Justice, the concise statement of errors complained of on appeal shall be filed and served with the notice of appeal. See Pa.R.A.P. 4004(b).
(b) Direction to file statement of errors complained of on appeal; instructions to the appellant and the trial court.If the judge entering the order giving rise to the notice of appeal (judge) desires clarification of the errors complained of on appeal, the judge may enter an order directing the appellant to file of record in the trial court and serve on the judge a concise statement of the errors complained of on appeal (Statement).
(1) Filing and service.The appellant shall file of record the Statement and concurrently shall serve the judge. Filing of record shall be as provided in Pa.R.A.P. 121(a) and, if mail is used, shall be complete on mailing if the appellant obtains a United States Postal Service Form 3817, Certificate of Mailing, or other similar United States Postal Service form from which the date of deposit can be verified in compliance with the requirements set forth in Pa.R.A.P. 1112(c). Service on the judge shall be at the location specified in the order, and shall be either in person, by mail, or by any other means specified in the order. Service on the parties shall be concurrent with filing and shall be by any means of service specified under Pa.R.A.P. 121(c).
(2) Time for filing and service.
(i) The judge shall allow the appellant at least 21 days from the date of the orders entry on the docket for the filing and service of the Statement. Upon application of the appellant and for good cause shown, the judge may enlarge the time period initially specified or permit an amended or supplemental Statement to be filed. Good cause includes, but is not limited to, delay in the production of a transcript necessary to develop the Statement so long as the delay is not attributable to a lack of diligence in ordering or paying for such transcript by the party or counsel on appeal. In extraordinary circumstances, the judge may allow for the filing of a Statement or amended or supplemental Statement nunc pro tunc.
(ii) If a party has ordered but not received a transcript necessary to develop the Statement, that party may request an extension of the deadline to file the Statement until 21 days following the date of entry on the docket of the transcript in accordance with Pa.R.A.P. 1922(b). The party must attach the transcript purchase order to the motion for the extension. If the motion is filed at least five days before the Statement is due but the trial court does not rule on the motion prior to the original due date, the motion will be deemed to have been granted.
(3) Contents of order.The judges order directing the filing and service of a Statement shall specify:
(i) the number of days after the date of entry of the judges order within which the appellant must file and serve the Statement;
(ii) that the Statement shall be filed of record;
(iii) that the Statement shall be served on the judge pursuant to paragraph (b)(1) and both the place the appellant can serve the Statement in person and the address to which the appellant can mail the Statement. In addition, the judge may provide an email, facsimile, or other alternative means for the appellant to serve the Statement on the judge; and
(iv) that any issue not properly included in the Statement timely filed and served pursuant to subdivision (b) shall be deemed waived.
(4) Requirements; waiver.
(i) The Statement shall set forth only those errors that the appellant intends to assert.
(ii) The Statement shall concisely identify each error that the appellant intends to assert with sufficient detail to identify the issue to be raised for the judge. The judge shall not require the citation to authorities or the record; however, appellant may choose to include pertinent authorities and record citations in the Statement.
(iii) The judge shall not require any party to file a brief, memorandum of law, or response as part of or in conjunction with the Statement.
(iv) The Statement should not be redundant or provide lengthy explanations as to any error. Where non-redundant, non-frivolous issues are set forth in an appropriately concise manner, the number of errors raised will not alone be grounds for finding waiver.
(v) Each error identified in the Statement will be deemed to include every subsidiary issue that was raised in the trial court; this provision does not in any way limit the obligation of a criminal appellant to delineate clearly the scope of claimed constitutional errors on appeal.
(vi) If the appellant in a civil case cannot readily discern the basis for the judges decision, the appellant shall preface the Statement with an explanation as to why the Statement has identified the errors in only general terms. In such a case, the generality of the Statement will not be grounds for finding waiver.
(vii) Issues not included in the Statement and/or not raised in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph (b)(4) are waived.
(1) An appellate court may remand in either a civil or criminal case for a determination as to whether a Statement had been filed and/or served or timely filed and/or served.
(2) Upon application of the appellant and for good cause shown, an appellate court may remand in a civil case for the filing or service nunc pro tunc of a Statement or for amendment or supplementation of a timely filed and served Statement and for a concurrent supplemental opinion. If an appellant has a statutory or rule-based right to counsel, good cause shown includes a failure by counsel to file or serve a Statement timely or at all.
(3) If an appellant represented by counsel in a criminal case was ordered to file and serve a Statement and either failed to do so, or untimely filed or served a Statement, such that the appellate court is convinced that counsel has been per se ineffective, and the trial court did not file an opinion, the appellate court may remand for appointment of new counsel, the filing or service of a Statement nunc pro tunc, and the preparation and filing of an opinion by the judge.
(4) If counsel intends to seek to withdraw in a criminal case pursuant to Anders/Santiago or if counsel intends to seek to withdraw in a post-conviction relief appeal pursuant to Turner/Finley, counsel shall file of record and serve on the judge a statement of intent to withdraw in lieu of filing a Statement. If the appellate court believes there are arguably meritorious issues for review, those issues will not be waived; instead, the appellate court shall remand for the filing and service of a Statement pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b), a supplemental opinion pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a), or both. Upon remand, the trial court may, but is not required to, replace an appellants counsel.
(d) Opinions in matters on petition for allowance of appeal.Upon receipt of notice of the filing of a petition for allowance of appeal under Pa.R.A.P. 1112(c) (appeals by allowance), the appellate court that entered the order sought to be reviewed, if the reasons for the order do not already appear of record, shall forthwith file of record at least a brief statement, in the form of an opinion, of the reasons for the order.
Paragraph (a): The 2007 amendments clarified that a judge whose order gave rise to the notice of appeal may ask a prior judge who made a ruling in question for the reasons for that judges decision. In such cases, more than one judge may issue separate Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) opinions for a single case. It may be particularly important for a judge to author a separate opinion if credibility was at issue in the pretrial ruling in question. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Yogel, 453 A.2d 15, 16 (Pa. Super. 1982). At the same time, the basis for some pre-trial rulings will be clear from the order and/or opinion issued by the judge at the time the ruling was made, and there will then be no reason to seek a separate opinion from that judge under this rule. See, e.g., Pa.R.Crim.P. 581(I). Likewise, there will be times when the prior judge may explain the ruling to the judge whose order has given rise to the notice of appeal in sufficient detail that there will be only one opinion under Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a), even though there are multiple rulings at issue. The time period for transmission of the record is specified in Pa.R.A.P. 1931.
Paragraph (b): This paragraph permits the judge whose order gave rise to the notice of appeal (judge) to ask for a statement of errors complained of on appeal (Statement) if the record is inadequate and the judge needs to clarify the errors complained of. The term errors is meant to encourage appellants to use the Statement as an opportunity to winnow the issues, recognizing that they will ultimately need to be refined to a statement that will comply with the requirements of Pa.R.A.P. 2116. Nonetheless, the term errors is intended in this context to be expansive, and it encompasses all of the reasons the trial court should not have reached its decision or judgment, including, for example, those that may not have been decisions of the judge, such as challenges to jurisdiction.
Subparagraph (b)(1): This subparagraph maintains the requirement that the Statement be both filed of record in the trial court and served on the judge. Service on the judge may be accomplished by mail, by personal service, or by any other means set forth by the judge in the order. The date of mailing will be considered the date of filing only if counsel obtains a United States Postal Service form from which the date of mailing can be verified, as specified in Pa.R.A.P. 1112(c). Counsel is advised both when filing and when serving the trial judge to retain date-stamped copies of postal forms (or other proofs of timely service), in case questions of waiver arise later, to demonstrate that the Statement was timely filed or served on the judge. This subparagraph was amended in 2019 to permit the increasingly frequent preference of judges to receive electronic or facsimile copies of filings.
Subparagraph (b)(2): This subparagraph extends the time period for drafting the Statement from 14 days to at least 21 days, with the trial court permitted to enlarge the time period or to allow the filing of an amended or supplemental Statement upon good cause shown. In Commonwealth v. Mitchell, 902 A.2d 430, 444 (Pa. 2006), the Court expressly observed that a Statement filed after several extensions of time was timely. An enlargement of time upon timely application might be warranted if, for example, there was a serious delay in the transcription of the notes of testimony or in the delivery of the order to appellate counsel. The 2019 amendments to the rule provided the opportunity to obtain an extension of time to file the Statement until 21 days after the transcript is filed pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1922(b). The appellant may file a motion for an extension of time, which, if filed in accordance with the rule, will be deemed granted if not expressly denied before the Statement is due.
A trial court should also enlarge the time or allow for an amended or supplemental Statement when new counsel is retained or appointed. A supplemental Statement may also be appropriate when the ruling challenged was so non-specifice.g., Motion Deniedthat counsel could not be sufficiently definite in the initial Statement.
In general, nunc pro tunc relief is allowed only when there has been a breakdown in the process constituting extraordinary circumstances. See, e.g., In re Canvass of Absentee Ballots of Nov. 4, 2003 Gen. Election, 843 A.2d 1223, 1234 (Pa. 2004) (We have held that fraud or the wrongful or negligent act of a court official may be a proper reason for holding that a statutory appeal period does not run and that the wrong may be corrected by means of a petition filed nunc pro tunc.) Courts have also allowed nunc pro tunc relief when non-negligent circumstances, either as they relate to appellant or his counsel occasion delay. McKeown v. Bailey, 731 A.2d 628, 630 (Pa. Super. 1999). However, even when there is a breakdown in the process, the appellant must attempt to remedy it within a very short duration of time. Id.
Subparagraph (b)(3): This subparagraph specifies what the judge must advise appellants when ordering a Statement.
Subparagraph (b)(4): This subparagraph sets forth the parameters for the Statement and explains what constitutes waiver. It should help counsel to comply with the concise-yet-sufficiently-detailed requirement and avoid waiver under either Lineberger v. Wyeth, 894 A.2d 141, 148-49 (Pa. Super. 2006) or Kanter v. Epstein, 866 A.2d 394, 400-03 (Pa. Super. 2004), allowance of appeal denied, 880 A.2d 1239 (Pa. 2005), cert. denied sub nom. Spector Gadon & Rosen, P.C. v. Kanter, 546 U.S. 1092 (2006). The paragraph explains that the Statement should be sufficiently specific to allow the judge to draft the opinion required under Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a), and it provides that the number of issues alone will not constitute waiverso long as the issues set forth are non-redundant and non-frivolous. It allows appellants to rely on the fact that subsidiary issues will be deemed included if the overarching issue is identified and if all of the issues have been properly preserved in the trial court. This provision has been taken from the United States Supreme Court rules. See Sup. Ct. R. 14(1). This subparagraph does not in any way excuse the responsibility of an appellant who is raising claims of constitutional error to raise those claims with the requisite degree of specificity. This subparagraph also allowsbut does not requirean appellant to state the authority upon which the appellant challenges the ruling in question and to identify the place in the record where the basis for the challenge may be found.
Neither the number of issues raised nor the length of the Statement alone is enough to find that a Statement is vague or non-concise enough to constitute waiver. See Astorino v. New Jersey Transit Corp., 912 A.2d 308, 309 (Pa. Super. 2006). The more carefully the appellant frames the Statement, the more likely it will be that the judge will be able to articulate the rationale underlying the decision and provide a basis for counsel to determine the advisability of raising that issue on appeal. Thus, counsel should begin the winnowing process when preparing the Statement and should articulate specific errors with which the appellant takes issue and why. Nothing in the rule requires an appellant to articulate the arguments within a Statement. It is enough for an appellantexcept where constitutional error must be raised with greater specificityto have identified the rulings and issues in regard to which the trial court is alleged to have erred.
Paragraph (c): The appellate courts have the right under the Judicial Code to affirm, modify, vacate, set aside or reverse any order brought before it for review, and may remand the matter and direct the entry of such appropriate order, or require such further proceedings to be had as may be just under the circumstances. 42 Pa.C.S. § 706.
Subparagraph (c)(1): This subparagraph applies to both civil and criminal cases and allows an appellate court to seek additional informationwhether by supplementation of the record or additional briefingif it is not apparent whether an initial or supplemental Statement was filed and/or served or timely filed and/or served.
Subparagraph (c)(2): This subparagraph allows an appellate court to remand a civil case to allow an initial, amended, or supplemental Statement and/or a supplemental opinion. See also 42 Pa.C.S. § 706. In 2019, the rule was amended to clarify that for those civil appellants who have a statutory or rule-based right to counsel (such as appellants in post-conviction relief, juvenile, parental termination, or civil commitment proceedings) good cause includes a failure of counsel to file a Statement or a timely Statement.
Subparagraph (c)(3): This subparagraph allows an appellate court to remand in criminal cases only when an appellant, who is represented by counsel, has completely failed to respond to an order to file and serve a Statement or has failed to do so timely. It is thus narrower than subparagraph (c)(2). See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Burton, 973 A.2d 428, 431 (Pa. Super. 2009); Commonwealth v. Halley, 870 A.2d 795, 801 (Pa. 2005); Commonwealth v. West, 883 A.2d 654, 657 (Pa. Super. 2005). Per se ineffectiveness applies in all circumstances in which an appeal is completely foreclosed by counsels actions, but not in circumstances in which the actions narrow or serve to foreclose the appeal in part. Commonwealth v. Rosado, 150 A.3d 425, 433-35 (Pa. 2016). Pro se appellants are excluded from this exception to the waiver doctrine as set forth in Commonwealth v. Lord, 719 A.2d 306 (Pa. 1998).
Direct appeal rights have typically been restored through a post-conviction relief process, but when the ineffectiveness is apparent and per se, the court in West recognized that the more effective way to resolve such per se ineffectiveness is to remand for the filing of a Statement and opinion. See West, 883 A.2d at 657; see also Burton (late filing of Statement is per se ineffective assistance of counsel). The procedure set forth in West is codified in subparagraph (c)(3). As the West court recognized, this rationale does not apply when waiver occurs due to the improper filing of a Statement. In such circumstances, relief may occur only through the post-conviction relief process and only upon demonstration by the appellant that, but for the deficiency of counsel, it was reasonably probable that the appeal would have been successful. An appellant must be able to identify per se ineffectiveness to secure a remand under this section, and any appellant who is able to demonstrate per se ineffectiveness is entitled to a remand. Accordingly, this subparagraph does not raise the concerns addressed in Johnson v. Mississippi, 486 U.S. 578, 588-89 (1988) (observing that where a rule has not been consistently or regularly applied, it is notunder federal lawan adequate and independent state ground for affirming petitioners conviction.)
Subparagraph (c)(4): See Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967) and Commonwealth v. Santiago, 978 A.2d 349 (Pa. 2009); Commonwealth v. Turner, 544 A.2d 927 (Pa. 1988) and Commonwealth v. Finley, 550 A.2d 213 (Pa. Super. 1988). These procedures do not relieve counsel of the obligation to comply with all other rules.
The provisions of this Rule 1925 amended May 16, 1979, effective September 30, 1979, 9 Pa.B. 1740; amended December 30, 1987, effective January 16, 1988 and shall govern all matters thereafter commence and, insofar as just and practicable, matters then pending, 18 Pa.B. 245; amended May 10, 2007, effective 60 days after adoption, 37 Pa.B. 2405; amended January 13, 2009, effective as to all appeals filed 60 days or more after adoption, 39 Pa.B. 1094; amended November 15, 2013, effective in 30 days, 43 Pa.B. 7071; amended March 18, 2014, effective April 18, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 2053; amended June 24, 2019, effective October 1, 2019, 49 Pa.B. 3867; amended December 17, 2021, effective April 1, 2022, 52 Pa.B. 9. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (396950) to (396956).
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