City of Philadelphia v. Marshall L. Williams, Appellant

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Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

City of Philadelphia v. Marshall L. Williams, Appellant

No. 624 C.D. 2015

Decided: November 02, 2016

BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, President Judge HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Senior Judge

OPINION NOT REPORTED

MEMORANDUM OPINION BY PRESIDENT JUDGE LEAVITT

Marshall L. Williams, pro se, appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court) denying his motion to stay a sheriff's sale of his property. The trial court's denial was based on Williams' failure to file a timely answer within 45 days, as previously ordered. Williams argues that the trial court erred by imposing an arbitrary 45-day deadline; by failing to address Williams' contention that the notice of the sale was defective; and by relying on misrepresentations by the City of Philadelphia. The City has responded by filing a motion to dismiss the appeal as moot. We remand, retaining jurisdiction.

In his appeal to this Court, Williams requests that we reverse the trial court's April 2, 2015, order issuing a Decree of Sheriff's Sale for property located at 1201-03 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He also requests an extension of time to retain counsel to answer the City's Petition for Decree of Sheriff's Sale for the property.

The City contends that Williams' appeal is moot. In support, it states that on January 20, 2016, while Williams' appeal was pending before this Court, the City filed a praecipe to discontinue the scheduled sheriff's sale without prejudice. The City then filed a motion with this Court to dismiss the appeal. On March 18, 2016, concluding that it was not clear that the discontinuance had rendered the appeal moot, this Court denied the City's motion to dismiss and directed the City to address the issue of mootness in its principal brief on the merits. Williams was granted leave to file a reply brief on the issue of mootness.

The City notes that it “has agreed not to sell [the] property pursuant to the decree obtained below at case number 1312T0360.” City Brief at 2. Instead, it has initiated a new proceeding at No. 1603T0100, for a decree to sell the property at 1201-03 Sansom Street. Stated otherwise, the City has agreed not to sell the property under authority of the trial court's April 2, 2015, order. Because there is no longer a Decree of Sheriff's Sale for the property, Williams has obtained all the relief he requested on appeal. Accordingly, he does not need time to hire a lawyer. In the new proceeding, Williams may obtain counsel or enter into an agreement to pay the taxes owed.1

The City's actions appear to have rendered the instant appeal moot. However, because the City did not file its motion to dismiss until after Williams had appealed to this Court, the City's assertions have not been established by the certified record. Accordingly, we remand to the trial court for a determination on the City's claim of mootness. The trial court may take further evidence and hold a hearing if necessary.

Upon so ruling, the trial court must file its order and recertify the record, including any new evidence presented on remand, to this Court within 60 days of this order. At that time, this Court will revisit the City's claim of mootness and consider, if necessary, the merits of Williams' appeal.

ORDER

AND NOW, this 2nd day of November, 2016, this matter is hereby remanded to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court), per the Honorable Linda Carpenter, for consideration of the City of Philadelphia's claim of mootness in accordance with the attached opinion.

The Chief Clerk is directed to immediately send a copy of this opinion and order to Judge Carpenter and return the certified record to the trial court, so that it may comply with the directives of this order.

The trial court is directed to file an order and recertify the record to this Court within sixty (60) days of this order.

Jurisdiction retained.

FOOTNOTES

1.   The City's records indicate that taxes have not been paid on the properties since 1998. Reproduced Record at 31.

MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, President Judge