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Massaro v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

February 25, 2003, Argued ; April 23, 2003, Decided

No. 01-1559


 [*502]  [**1692]   Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court.

LEdHN[1A][] [1A] Petitioner, Joseph Massaro, was indicted on federal racketeering charges, including murder in aid of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) [18 USCS § 1962(d)], in connection with the shooting death of Joseph Fiorito. He was tried in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The day before Massaro's trial was to begin, prosecutors learned of what appeared to be a critical piece of evidence: a bullet allegedly recovered from the car in which the victim's body was found. They waited for several days, however, to inform defense counsel of this development. Not until the trial was underway and the defense had made its opening statement did they make this disclosure. After the trial court and the defense had been informed of the development but still during the course of trial, defense counsel more than once declined the trial court's offer of a continuance so the bullet could be examined. Massaro was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

On direct appeal new counsel for Massaro argued the District [****6]  Court had erred in admitting the bullet in evidence, but he did not raise any claim relating to ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The Court of  [***719]  Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the conviction. Judgt. order reported at United States v. Massaro, 57 F.3d 1063 (1995).

 [**1693]  Massaro later filed a motion under 28 USC § 2255 [28 USCS § 2255], seeking to vacate his conviction. As relevant here, he claimed that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance in failing to accept the trial court's offer to grant a continuance. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York found this claim procedurally defaulted because Massaro could have raised it on direct appeal.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed Massaro v. United States, 27 Fed. Appx. 26 (1995). The court acknowledged that ineffective-assistance claims usually should be excused from procedural default rules because an attorney who handles both trial and appeal is unlikely to raise an ineffective-assistance [*503]  claim against himself. Nevertheless, it adhered to its decision in  Billy-Eko v. United States, 8 F.3d 111 (1993).  Under Billy-Eko, when the defendant is represented by [****7]  new counsel on appeal and the ineffective assistance claim is based solely on the record made at trial, the claim must be raised on direct appeal; failure to do so results in procedural default unless the petitioner shows cause and prejudice. Finding that Massaro was represented by new counsel on appeal, that his trial counsel's ineffectiveness was evident from the record, and that he had failed to show cause or prejudice, the Court of Appeals held him procedurally barred from bringing the ineffective-assistance claim on collateral review.

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538 U.S. 500 *; 123 S. Ct. 1690 **; 155 L. Ed. 2d 714 ***; 2003 U.S. LEXIS 3243 ****; 71 U.S.L.W. 4310; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3369; 2003 Daily Journal DAR 4285; 16 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 238


Subsequent History: On remand at, Post-conviction relief denied at Massaro v. United States, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20084 (S.D.N.Y., Oct. 5, 2004)


Massaro v. United States, 27 Fed. Appx. 26, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 24266 (2001)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

direct appeal, ineffective-assistance, district court, ineffective, collateral review, ineffective counsel, appellate counsel, cases, procedural default, trial counsel, trial record, new counsel

Contracts Law, Secured Transactions, Default, General Overview, Criminal Law & Procedure, Reviewability, Preservation for Review, Cause & Prejudice Standard, Order & Timing of Petitions, Procedural Default, Counsel, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Civil Procedure, Pleading & Practice, Motion Practice, Postconviction Proceedings, Motions to Set Aside Sentence, Jurisdiction, Cognizable Issues, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Tests for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel