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Commonwealth v. Valentin (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-192-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11581   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  PEDRO VALENTIN. Suffolk.     October 6, 2014. – December 8, 2014.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Constitutional Law, Assistance of counsel.  Due Process of Law, Assistance of counsel.  Homicide.  Practice, Criminal, Assistance of counsel, Capital case, New trial.  Witness, Impeachment.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on October 23, 1991.   Following review by this court, 420 Mass. 263 (1995), a motion for a new trial, filed on January 6, 2012, was considered by Patrick F. Brady, J.   A request for leave to appeal was allowed by Gants, J., in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk.     Dennis Shedd for the defendant. Paul B. Linn, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.          CORDY, J.  The defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree was affirmed by this court in 1995.  See Commonwealth v. Valentin, 420 Mass. 263 (1995).  In 2012, he filed a motion for a new trial which was denied. The case is now before us pursuant to an order of a single justice of the county court allowing, in part, the defendant’ s application for leave to appeal from that denial under G. L. c. 278, § 33E. We conclude that trial counsel did not render ineffective assistance in failing to impeach a witness as to one of his statements, where counsel’s decision was not manifestly unreasonable and, in any event, did not so impact the outcome of the trial as to create a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice.  We also conclude that the substitution of trial counsel’s partner to stand in for her during jury deliberations was not one of structural error warranting a new trial absent a showing of prejudice.  Further, considering the claim as one of ineffective assistance of counsel, we conclude that the defendant did not receive constitutionally deficient assistance or suffer any appreciable prejudice as a result of the substitution.  Accordingly, the defendant’s motion for new trial was properly denied. Background.  In October, 1991, the defendant was indicted on charges of murder in the first degree, G. L. c. 265, § 1, for the killing of Timothy Bond in July, 1991, and for assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, G. L. c. 265, § 15A (b). 1.  Evidence at trial.  The facts of this […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - December 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm

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