Pennsylvania Superior Court Ruling: Commonwealth v. Mojica

Com. v. Mojica, E. No. 2356 EDA 2019

In the matter of Commonwealth v. Mojica, the court affirms an order denying the defendants post-conviction relief act petition.

The primary issue in the case is whether the petition was timely filed. The original pro-se PCRA petition was filed prior to the time the judgment became final, and at a time when the defendant was still represented by counsel. The PCRA court was mistaken in treating the pro se petition as valid under Pennsylvania law. There were a number of other delays caused by mistakes made by the PCRA court and the Superior Court found that because the faults are directly attributable to the PCRA courts error, it was proper to extend the time in which to file the amended petition.

In the petition, the defendant claims ineffective assistance of counsel. When reviewing these claims, courts must presume counsel provided effective assistance. To overcome the presumption, the defendant must plead and prove that the claim has arguable merit, counsel lacked any reasonable basis for the action or inaction, and the defendant suffered prejudice as a result. Failure to satisfy any one prong will result in rejection of the claim. Defendant claims that he requested that his counsel file a direct appeal and his counsel failed to do so. However, the record reflects credible testimony that the direct appeal was never requested and therefore there is no arguable merit to the claim, and as such no relief is due.

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