• Exceptions in Pennsylvania Orphans' Court Not Necessary to Preserve Weight-of-the-Evidence Claim on State-Court Appeal
  • November 22, 2013 | Author: Edward J. Sholinsky
  • Law Firm: Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • In a unanimous en banc decision, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held on November 12 in In re Estate of William O. Smaling, No. 3353 EDA 2011, that filing exceptions to a Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court order is not necessary to preserve weight-of-the-evidence claims on appeal. Instead, the Court held, raising that issue in a Rule 1925(b) statement prevents waiver. The holding overturns a 2012 decision in the case in which a Superior Court panel had held it was necessary to file exceptions. That earlier decision was very controversial because Orphans’ Court Rule 7.1 states that the filing of exceptions is optional, not mandatory. The rule also states that “[f]ailure to file exceptions shall not result in waiver if the grounds for appeal are otherwise properly preserved,” and it is that “if” clause that caused the waiver controversy.