Representation at issue in appeal
Clearfield judge to clarify if inmate has attorney
The Pennsylvania Superior Court has asked a Clearfield County judge to clarify whether a defendant, serving time in a state prison for possession of child pornography, is representing himself or by an attorney in an appeal.
A three-judge panel ruled that Raymond Arthur Mikelonis Sr., 63, of DuBois filed a timely appeal to a dismissal of a post-conviction petition before Judge Paul E. Cherry.
The question raised by the Superior Court was the validity of the appeal in view of the fact that the Clearfield County Court docket showed Mikelonis was represented by attorney Patrick Lavelle, who was appointed to represent him.
Lavelle at one point had filed a letter requesting permission to withdraw from the case.
There was nothing on the court record to show if Lavelle was permitted to withdraw.
If Lavalle remains as Mikelonis’ attorney, then the appeals court cannot recognize the petition filed by Mikelonis because a defendant cannot file his own petition while being represented by a lawyer.
The Mikelonis appeal was sent back the Clearfield judge for clarification.
The judge was instructed to determine attorney Lavelle’s status in the case.
If it is determined that Lavelle is continuing to represent Mikelonis, then the lawyer is to file a brief supporting the Mikelonis appeal within 30 days, the opinion stated.
One of the questions resolved in the opinion was the timeliness of Mikelonis’ appeal.
Cherry dismissed the initial post-conviction petition filed by Lavelle and Mikelonis’ petition requesting court review of his case last December.
Mikelonis’ appeal of that dismissal was docketed March 25, 2019, which would have exceeded the 30-day deadline.
But Mikelonis indicated he actually filed the appeal on Jan. 6.
Investigation showed that the county clerk of courts did not docket the appeal until March 25, indicating to Mikelonis “nothing will be done with your appeal until the judge either grants or denies his permission to proceed on his own.”
The Superior Court found the clerk of courts was in error. It pointed out that the clerk shall immediately stamp a petition the day it is received and that should be the date shown on the docket.
The court ruled Mikelonis’ appeal, bearing the Jan. 6 date, therefore was timely.
Mikelonis is serving time at the State Correctional Institution at Waymart, according to the Pennsylvania Inmate Locator.