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Commonwealth v. Shaird

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 28, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
LUCIUS SHAIRD, Appellant

Appeal from the PCRA Order April 30, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division No(s). CP-51-CR-0304881-1996

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J., SHOGAN, and FITZGERALD, [*] JJ.

MEMORANDUM

FITZGERALD, J.

Appellant, Lucius Shaird, appeals pro se from the order entered in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas dismissing, as untimely filed, his fourth petition seeking post-conviction relief.[1] Appellant asserts that he is entitled to relief because his conviction for first-degree murder constitutes a miscarriage of justice in light of the 2011 amendments to Pennsylvania's self-defense statute. See 18 Pa.C.S. § 505, amended by 2011 P.L. 48, No. 10, § 2 (enacted June 28, 2011, effective Aug. 29, 2011) (hereinafter the "2011 amendments"). We affirm.

This Court previously recited the factual and prior procedural history related to Appellant's third PCRA petition. Commonwealth v. Shaird, 2283 EDA 2006 (unpublished memorandum) (Pa. Super. June 4, 2007). It suffices here to note that Appellant was convicted of, inter alia, murder of the first degree and was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 4, 1997. Id. at 2. Following a direct appeal, the conviction became final on November 17, 2000. Id. at 2, 4.

On September 15, 2010, the PCRA court docketed pro se Appellant's fourth petition, which gives rise to this appeal.[2] On August 8, 2011, the PCRA court issued a Pa.R.Crim.P. 907 notice of its intent to dismiss. The court, on April 30, 2013, then entered an order dismissing the September 15, 2010 petition.

On May 28, 2013, Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal, as well as an unsolicited "statement of matters complained of on appeal, " in which he sought relief based on the enactment of the 2011 amendments to the self-defense statute. This appeal followed.

As we previously explained:
"An appellate court's review of an order denying post conviction relief is limited to examining whether the evidence of record supports the determination of the PCRA court and whether the ruling is free from legal error." Commonwealth v. Padden, 783 A.2d 299, 309 (Pa. Super. 2001). "We will not disturb findings of the PCRA court that are supported by the certified record." Id.....
Under the PCRA, any PCRA petition, "including a second or subsequent petition, shall be filed within one year of the date the judgment becomes final[.]" 42 Pa.C.S. § 9545(b)(1) (emphasis added). A judgment becomes final "at the conclusion of direct review, including discretionary review in the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, or at the expiration of time for seeking the review." Id. at § 9545(b)(3). "The PCRA's timeliness requirements are jurisdictional in nature and a court may not address the merits of the issues raised if the PCRA petition was not timely filed." Commonwealth v. Abu-Jamal, 833 A.2d 719, 723-24 (Pa. 2003); see also Commonwealth v. Hall, 771 A.2d 1232, 1234 (Pa. 2001) ("Pennsylvania courts lack jurisdiction to entertain untimely PCRA petitions."). Therefore, when a PCRA petition is filed over one year after the judgment of sentence becomes final, Pennsylvania courts cannot consider the petition unless the petitioner can prove one of the exceptions set forth in 42 Pa.C.S. section 9545(b).
. . . [Appellant]'s sentence became final on or about November 17, 2000, at the conclusion of the period for seeking certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States. See 42 Pa.C.S. § 9545(b)(3) (stating that a judgment becomes final "at the conclusion of direct review, including discretionary review in the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, or at the expiration of time for seeking the review."); see also Commonwealth v. Wilson, 911 A.2d 942, 945 (Pa. Super. 2006) .....
However, Pennsylvania courts may consider an untimely petition if the appellant can explicitly prove one of the exceptions set forth in the PCRA:
(i) the failure to raise the claim previously was the result of interference by government officials with the presentation of the claim in violation of the Constitution or laws of this Commonwealth or the Constitution or laws of the United States;
(ii) the facts upon which the claim is predicated were unknown to the petitioner and could not have been ascertained by ...

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