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Commonwealth v. Claudio

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Essex

January 3, 2020

COMMONWEALTH
v.
PEDRO CLAUDIO, JR.

          Heard: October 4, 2019.

          Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 3, 1991. A postconviction motion for forensic testing, filed on December 15, 2017, was considered by Timothy Q. Feeley, J., and a motion to vacate, filed on September 19, 2018, also was considered by him.

          Michael A. Nam-Krane for the defendant.

          Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Neyman, Shin, & McDonough, JJ.

          NEYMAN, J.

         We consider whether the failure to comply with the statutorily prescribed deadline for filing a notice of appeal under G. L. c. 278A, § 18, [1] precludes consideration of the merits of the present appeal. Because the explicit thirty-day deadline for filing the notice of appeal under the statute is a jurisdictional requirement, we must dismiss the appeal as untimely.

         Background.

         1. Trial and subsequent plea.

         On April 17, 1992, a Superior Court jury convicted the defendant, Pedro Claudio, Jr., of murder in the first degree by reason of felonymurder, and breaking and entering a dwelling in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony and assaulting a person lawfully therein. In 1994, the Supreme Judicial Court reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial because of "omissions in the jury instructions concerning joint venture and the elements of the underlying felony." Commonwealth v. Claudio, 418 Mass. 103, 104 (1994) .[2]

         Following a remand to the Superior Court, the defendant pleaded guilty on August 16, 1995, pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970), to murder in the second degree, and breaking and entering a dwelling in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony and assaulting a person lawfully therein. As stated in the prosecutor's recitation of facts during the plea colloquy, the plea was predicated on joint venture.

         2. Postconviction motions.

         In 1997 and 2004, the defendant filed two motions to withdraw his guilty plea, contending that his plea was not knowing and voluntary and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. A Superior Court judge denied both motions. In 2010, the defendant filed yet another motion to withdraw his guilty plea, again contending that his plea was not knowing and voluntary. After the same Superior Court judge denied the 2010 motion, the defendant appealed the denial to this court. In an unpublished decision issued pursuant to our rule 1:28, a panel of this court affirmed the order denying the motion. Commonwealth v. Claudio, 83 Mass.App.Ct. 1108 (2013).

         On December 15, 2017, the defendant filed a "Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing Under G. L. c. 278A and Necessary Discovery," seeking forensic testing of certain trial exhibits that would purportedly "reveal results material to the identification of the perpetrator of the murder in this case." On December 29, 2017, a Superior Court judge issued a written decision denying the motion, "without prejudice to a demonstration that DNA testing has the potential to result in evidence that is material to [the defendant's] identification as a joint venture perpetrator." The defendant filed a motion for reconsideration on February 7, 2018, which the same judge denied.

         3. Noti ...


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