Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Luis Antonio Rodriguez-Cruz, Appellant

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Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Luis Antonio Rodriguez-Cruz, Appellant

No. 3845 EDA 2015

Decided: September 12, 2016

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., STABILE AND MUSMANNO, JJ.

Luis Antonio Rodriguez-Cruz appeals, pro se, from the order of December 3, 2015, dismissing his second PCRA 1 petition as untimely. We affirm.

On December 5, 2012, appellant entered a negotiated guilty plea to two counts of possession with intent to deliver (“PWID”), one count of criminal conspiracy to commit PWID, and five counts of criminal solicitation to commit PWID.2 The trial court imposed the agreed-upon sentence of 15 to 30 years' imprisonment. On September 25, 2013, appellant filed a motion for modification of sentence nunc pro tunc, which was denied on January 7, 2014. Appellant filed an untimely appeal from the January 7, 2014 order on April 10, 2014, which was quashed.

On June 20, 2014, appellant filed a PCRA petition and counsel was appointed; however, that petition was subsequently withdrawn on May 13, 2015. On August 10, 2015, appellant filed the instant petition, his second, which was dismissed as untimely on December 3, 2015. This timely appeal followed on December 18, 2015.

On appeal, appellant argues that his sentence, which included mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 7508, is unconstitutional and illegal in light of Alleyne v. United States, –––U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013) (holding that any fact that, by law, increases the penalty for a crime is required to be treated as an element of the offense, submitted to a jury, rather than a judge, and found beyond a reasonable doubt). For the reasons discussed in Commonwealth v. Fennell, 105 A.3d 13 (Pa.Super. 2014), appeal denied, 121 A.3d 494 (Pa. 2015), and Commonwealth v. Cardwell, 105 A.3d 748 (Pa.Super. 2014), appeal denied, 121 A.3d 494 (Pa. 2015), this court has determined Section 7508 to be facially unconstitutional in its entirety. See also, e.g., Commonwealth v. Newman, 99 A.3d 86 (Pa.Super. 2014) (en banc), appeal denied, 121 A.3d 496 (Pa. 2015) (concluding that 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9712.1, regarding the distance between drugs and guns, must be struck down in its entirety as unconstitutional in light of Alleyne, as its subsections are not severable); Commonwealth v. Valentine, 101 A.3d 801 (Pa.Super. 2014), appeal denied, 124 A.3d 309 (Pa. 2015) (by allowing the jury to determine beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions of 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 9712 and 9713, the trial court performed an impermissible legislative function, effectively determining that the unconstitutional provisions were severable).

Recently, however, our supreme court decided that Alleyne does not apply retroactively to collateral attacks on mandatory minimum sentences advanced in post-conviction relief proceedings. Commonwealth v. Washington, –––A.3d ––––, 2016 WL 3909088 (Pa. July 19, 2016). Alleyne was not a groundbreaking, “watershed” rule of criminal procedure that applies retroactively on collateral review. Id.; see Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989) (plurality) (a new constitutional rule of criminal procedure does not generally apply to convictions that were final when the new rule was announced). Therefore, appellant is not entitled to the benefit of Alleyne.

Order affirmed.

FOOTNOTES

1.   Post-Conviction Relief Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 9541-9546.

2.   35 Pa.C.S.A. § 780-113(A)(30), 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 903, and 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 902(a), respectively.

JUDGMENT ORDER BY FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E.: