Submitted October 8, 2013
Petition for certiorari filed at, 06/18/2014
Appeal from the Order entered on 07/30/2012 in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division of Philadelphia County at No. CP-51-CR-1103001-1990.
CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, McCAFFERY, STEVENS, JJ. MR. JUSTICE STEVENS. Mr. Chief Justice Castille and Messrs. Justice Saylor, Eakin, Baer and McCaffery join the opinion. Madame Justice Todd concurs in the result.
MR. STEVENS, JUSTICE.
Imanuel Bassil Ali (" Appellant" ) appeals from the order dismissing his second petition for collateral relief under the Post Conviction Relief Act (" PCRA" ), 42 Pa.C.S. § § 9541-9546, as untimely filed. Represented by the Federal Community Defender's Office (" Federal Defender" ), Appellant asserts he suffered from mental incompetency at relevant times during his first PCRA proceedings so as to qualify his present, second PCRA petition for the newly-discovered evidence exception to the PCRA time-bar. Because he fails to establish this claim by a preponderance of the evidence, we affirm.
Over twenty-two years ago, on November 12, 1991, a jury sentenced Appellant to death for the murder of Sheila Manigault. On Appellant's direct appeal, this Court unanimously affirmed his death sentence. Commonwealth v. Lester, 554 Pa. 644, 722 A.2d 997 (1998). Appellant subsequently filed a timely pro se PCRA petition on June 25, 1999, and an amended petition on September 15, 1999.
As the procedural history pertaining to Appellant's first PCRA petition bears upon
the inquiry we undertake to determine the timeliness of the present, second, petition, we reproduce from our opinion in Appellant's first PCRA appeal an excerpt describing this history:
On January 12, 2000, the PCRA court appointed Lee Mandell, Esq., as counsel for appellant, but appellant soon requested permission to proceed pro se . Appellant filed pro se supplemental PCRA petitions on June 20, 2000 and November 3, 2000. In early 2001, the PCRA court ordered a mental health evaluation, which was conducted on February 23, 2001. The evaluation resulted in a report that appellant had no mental health issues or substance abuse issues at the time, understood the " proper roles" and " major principles involved in a court of law," and was competent to assist in his own defense. Mental Health Evaluation Report of James G. Jones, M.D., 2/26/01, at 2 (unnumbered). The PCRA court also conducted an extensive colloquy with appellant on the record before granting his request to proceed pro se on March 23, 2001. The Court appointed Attorney Mandell as advisory counsel. Thereafter, appellant filed an additional pro se supplemental PCRA petition on September 19, 2001; the Commonwealth filed a motion to dismiss on April 19, 2002; and appellant filed yet another supplemental pro se petition on May 30, 2002. The court sent appellant a notice of intention to dismiss pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 907 on August 14, 2002. However, on September 13, 2002, the PCRA court found appellant incompetent to proceed pro se, based upon its further review of his submissions, and noted that appellant and Attorney Mandell had irreconcilable differences. The court thus allowed Attorney Mandell to withdraw and Daniel A. Rendine, Esq., was appointed as counsel for appellant on September 20, 2002. In November 2002, however, the PCRA court again permitted appellant to represent himself and directed Attorney Rendine to serve as back-up counsel. The court then held an evidentiary hearing on April 28, 2003 and, on June 27, 2003, denied PCRA relief and formally dismissed Attorney Rendine from the case.
After appellant appealed to this Court, attorneys from the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Federal Court Division, Capital Habeas Unit [ ], entered appearance on behalf of appellant and filed a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement on appellant's behalf on April 12, 2004. Appellant then filed his own 1925(b) statement, which was dated April 12, 2004 and docketed on April 26, 2004. On May 16, 2006, appellant filed a pro se Petition to Remove Counsel and Proceed Pro Se . On June 6, 2006, the Federal Defender filed a Response, urging denial of appellant's petition. On June 15, 2006, this Court ordered the PCRA court to conduct a hearing on appellant's request to proceed pro se, pursuant to Commonwealth v. Grazier, 552 Pa. 9, 713 A.2d 81 (1998). We did not relinquish jurisdiction.
At a hearing on March 30, 2007, the Commonwealth asserted that since appellant clearly had no desire to cooperate with the Federal Defender or undergo further competency evaluation by doctors, the Grazier hearing should proceed " with all due haste." N.T. 3/30/07, at 4. The Federal Defender responded that in its view, appellant was not competent to waive counsel and that it had a written report from a doctor [Dr. John O'Brien, M.D., a psychiatrist, see infra ] who did not believe appellant ...