February 28, 2014
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
DWAYNE A. GOUDY, Appellant
Appeal from the Order Entered January 15, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County Criminal Division No(s).: CP-36-CR-0000622-2009 CP-36-CR-0000625-2009 CP-36-CR-0000626-2009 CP-36-CR-0000627-2009
BEFORE: BENDER, LAZARUS, and FITZGERALD, [*] JJ.
Appellant, Dwayne A. Goody, appeals pro se from the order entered in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas dismissing his timely pro se petition filed pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"). Appellant avers the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction, the crimes charged did not contain any enactment clause or contain titles as required by the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Pennsylvania Statutes have no enacting authority, law enforcement officers, magistrates, district attorneys and judges are civilly and criminally liable for their violations of the Federal Constitution, and Appellant was denied his right to have his case presented to a grand jury. We affirm.
We state the facts and procedural posture as set forth by a prior panel of this Court:
[T]he female victim [ ] was sexually assaulted by her stepfather, Appellant, approximately once a week over the course of seven years.
[When victim] was 14 years old, Appellant began having sexual intercourse with her.
[Victim] discovered she was pregnant.
[Victim] went along with appellant's plan and, after telling her mother that her boyfriend was the father of her unborn baby, her mother and Appellant took [her] to Hillcrest of Harrisburg where she had an abortion.
[Victim] clarified during her testimony that she never wanted to engage in sexual acts with Appellant, but did so because she did not want her family to be hurt by discovering what Appellant was doing to her. As such, [victim] continued to keep Appellant's abuse a secret over the course of approximately seven years.
[I]n February of 2008, [victim] finally revealed Appellant's abuse, confiding in her supervisor at her job. In response, her supervisor called [victim's school, ] and informed them of [victim's] allegations. School officials summoned police. When police interviewed [victim], she confirmed that Appellant was sexually abusing her. . . . [Appellant] was eventually arrested and charged with four counts of rape by threat of forcible compulsion, three counts of sexual assault, two counts of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age, two counts of indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age, two counts of indecent assault without consent, and four counts of corrupting a minor. In addition, he was charged with single counts of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person less than 16 years of age, criminal attempt to commit involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age, and aggravated indecent assault of a child. Appellant proceeded to a jury trial, at the close of which he was found guilty of all counts of the above-stated crimes.
In addition, Appellant was subsequently deemed to be a sexually violent predator (SVP) pursuant to the Registration of Sexual Offenders Act, 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 9791-9799.9, commonly referred to as "Megan's Law." The court then sentenced him to an aggregate term of 22 to 44 years' incarceration. Appellant filed a timely post-sentence motion, which the court denied.
Commonwealth v. Goudy, 973 MDA 2010 (unpublished memorandum at 1, 3, 4, 6-7) (Pa. Super. May 10, 2011). This Court affirmed the judgment of sentence. Id. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Appellant's petition for allowance of appeal. Appellant, pro se, filed a timely PCRA petition and counsel was appointed. Counsel filed a Turner/Finley petition. The PCRA court granted counsel's petition to withdraw. On June 15, 2013, the court dismissed the PCRA petition. This timely appeal followed. Appellant filed a timely court-ordered Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement of errors complained of on appeal. The PCRA court did not file a responsive opinion.
Appellant raises the following issues for our review:
1. Did the trial court have subject matter jurisdiction?
2. Does the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have and publish an enactment clause for each and every law promulgated by the Pennsylvania legislature?
3.What is the purpose of the constitutional provision for an enacting clause?
4. Do the laws referenced in the complaints contain titles?
5. Are the Pennsylvania statutes of a unknown and uncertain authority?
6. Are there established rules of constitutional construction to the Pennsylvania statutes?
7. Was trial counsel ineffective by his failure to protect accused against constitutional violations perpetrated by the Commonwealth?
8. Was trial counsel ineffective due to his failure to protect this Appellant from a violation of his fifth amendment right under the United States Constitution?
Appellant's Brief at viii (unpaginated).
Appellant contends counsel was ineffective because he failed to protect him "against constitutional violations perpetrated by the Commonwealth." Id. at 27. He avers that because the charging instrument was not based upon valid laws, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at 2-3.
Furthermore, he argues that the laws in "Pardon's (sic) Pennsylvania Statutes and Pardons Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated" do not contain any Enactment Clauses or Titles as required by the Pennsylvania Constitution. Id. at 8, 12, 17. He claims
[u]nless Pennsylvania ratifies a New Constitution, with a Savings Clause, protecting the Criminal Code and Statutes, the current Criminal Codes and Statutes, in their entirety are to have been repealed. This means that all Commonwealth Law Enforcement Officers, Magistrates, District Attorney's and Judges, are all liable civilly and criminally, for their willful intentional violations of the Federal Constitutions Fifth, Sixth and fourteenth Amendments.
Id. at 29-30.
We address issues one through six together because they are interrelated.
Under our standard of review for an appeal from the denial of PCRA relief, we must determine whether the ruling of the PCRA court is supported by the record and is free of legal error. The PCRA court's credibility determinations are binding on this Court when they are supported by the record. However, this Court applies a de novo standard of review to the PCRA court's legal conclusions.
To be eligible for PCRA relief, a petitioner must plead and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his or her conviction or sentence resulted from one or more of the circumstances enumerated in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9543(a)(2).
These circumstances include a violation of the Pennsylvania or United States Constitution and ineffective assistance of counsel which "so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place." 42 Pa.C.S. § 9543(a)(2)(i), (ii). Furthermore, a petitioner must establish that the claims of error raised in the PCRA petition have not been previously litigated or waived, and that "the failure to litigate the issue prior to or during trial, during unitary review or on direct appeal could not have been the result of any rational, strategic or tactical decision by counsel." 42 Pa.C.S. § 9543(a)(3) and (4). . . . An issue has been waived "if the petitioner could have raised it but failed to do so before trial, at trial, during unitary review, on appeal or in a prior state post[-]conviction proceeding." 42 Pa.C.S. § 9544(b). An issue has been previously litigated if "the highest appellate court in which the petitioner could have had review as a matter of right has ruled on the merits of the issue." 42 Pa.C.S. § 9544(a)(2).
Commonwealth v. Chmiel, 30 A.3d 1111, 1127 (Pa. 2011) (some citations omitted).
The PCRA provides, inter alia,
(a) General rule.-To be eligible for relief under this subchapter, the petitioner must plead and prove by a preponderance of the evidence all of the following:
(1) That the petitioner has been convicted of a crime under the laws of this Commonwealth and is at the time relief is granted:
(i) currently serving a sentence of imprisonment, probation or parole for the crime;
(2)That the conviction or sentence resulted from one or more of the following:
(viii) A proceeding in a tribunal without jurisdiction. 42 Pa.C.S. § 9543(a)(1)(i), (2)(viii) (emphasis added).
In Commonwealth v. Stout, 978 A.2d 984 (Pa. Super. 2009), the defendant "filed a 'Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Subjiciendum' asserting, in addition to various allegations of jurisdictional defect, that he was prosecuted under a state constitution that was adopted without lawful authority." Id. at 986 (footnote omitted). This Court held that the claim was cognizable under the PCRA, reasoning that Section 9543(a)(2)(viii)
demonstrates clearly that a convicted individual serving a sentence of confinement may allege and seek redress for a claim that the tribunal in which his conviction was obtained lacked jurisdiction. While there appears to be a dearth of cases wherein challenges to the court's jurisdiction have been raised, in Commonwealth v. Hughes, 581 Pa. 274, 865 A.2d 761 (2004), the supreme court considered an allegation that appellant's murder conviction was held in a tribunal without jurisdiction as the petitioner was a minor and the case should have been transferred to juvenile court. On this matter, the court stated: "[the issue] whether charges should be prosecuted in the juvenile court or adult court system implicates jurisdictional concerns. . ." .
. . . That is, appellant's allegations of constitutional defects in adoption of the present version of the Pennsylvania Constitution and/or the Crimes Code, equate to a contention that the Court of Common Pleas lacked authority to prosecute him for the charge in question. As an attack upon the court's authority, i.e., the court's jurisdiction, it could have been addressed by the PCRA court.
Id. at 987. Analogously, we will address Appellant's allegations of constitutional defects implicating the jurisdiction of the Court of Common Pleas to prosecute him. See id.
In Stout, the Court addressed "the allegation that rules of court were applied to [defendant's] proceedings that were unconstitutionally promulgated by the judiciary . . . ." Id. This Court held: "the Pennsylvania Constitution itself provides for the promulgation of rules governing the practice, procedure, and conduct of courts so long as these rules do not abridge, enlarge, or modify the substantive rights of litigants." Id. at 988 (quotation marks and citation omitted).
18 Pa.C.S. § 101 provides: "This title shall be known and may be cited as the 'Crimes Code.'" It was officially promulgated via December 6, 1972, P.L. 1482, No. 334. See id. The legislative act establishing the Crimes Code contains a title and an enacting clause. 1 Pa.C.S. § 1101 provides:
(a) All statutes shall begin in the following style: "The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:". Such enacting clause shall be placed immediately after the preamble or the table of contents of the statute, or if there be neither preamble nor table of contents, then immediately after the title.
1 Pa.C.S. § 1101(a).
The publication prepared by the bureau pursuant to this chapter shall constitute an official publication of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes and shall be legal evidence of the laws contained therein including the Constitution and laws incorporated therein pursuant to section 502(a)(4) of this title (relating to preparation and contents).
1 Pa.C.S. § 503.
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are official codifications that are enacted by the General Assembly. By contrast, the unofficial codification and annotation of Pennsylvania's Pamphlet Laws, known as Purdon's, is the work product of the West Publishing Company.
In Re Appeal of Tenet HealthSystems Bucks County, LLC, 880 A.2d 721, 725 (Pa. Commw. 2005) (footnote omitted).
Controversies arising out of violations of the Crimes Code are entrusted to the original jurisdiction of the courts of common pleas for resolution. See 18 Pa.C.S. § 102. Every jurist within that tier of the unified judicial system is competent to hear and decide a matter arising out of the Crimes Code. Pa. Const. Art. 5, § 5 (establishing the jurisdiction of the courts of common pleas within the unified judicial system).
Commonwealth v. Bethea, 828 A.2d 1066, 1074 (Pa. 2003).
Appellant's claims that the court lacked jurisdiction to prosecute him are without merit. See Id.; Stout, 978 A.2d at 987-88.
Lastly, we consider whether Appellant has waived issues seven and eight, viz, that counsel rendered ineffective assistance by his failure to protect him against constitutional violations perpetrated by the Commonwealth and from a violation of his Fifth Amendment right under the United States Constitution. Appellant's Brief at 30-31. He asserts: "To assume jurisdiction in this case would result in TREASON." Id. at 44.
Our longstanding test for ineffective assistance of counsel derives from the standard set by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L .Ed. 2d 674 (1984). See Commonwealth v. Pierce, 515 Pa. 153, 527 A.2d 973, 976 (1987) (adopting the federal standard in Pennsylvania). Under Pierce, a petitioner must prove that: (1) the underlying legal claim is of arguable merit; (2) counsel had no reasonable strategic basis for proceeding as he did; and (3) there is a reasonable likelihood that, but for the challenged act of counsel, the outcome of the proceedings would have been different. Id. at 975. See also Commonwealth v. Dennis, 950 A.2d 945, 954 (Pa. 2008). The failure to satisfy any one of the three prongs is fatal to a petitioner's claim.
Commonwealth v. Clark, 961 A.2d 80, 85 (Pa. 2008).
Instantly, Appellant has failed "to set forth all three prongs of the ineffectiveness test and [to] meaningfully discuss them, he is not entitled to relief, and we are constrained to find such claims waived for lack of development." Commonwealth v. Spotz, 18 A.3d 244, 282 (Pa. 2011) (citation omitted).