Commonwealth v. Davis

In Commonwealth v. Davis, the PA Superior Court dealt with historical cell-site location information (CSLI) and Carpenter v. United States. Law enforcement initially obtained CSLI data with orders secured under the state and federal wiretap acts. Those orders were based on a quantum of evidence that was less than probable cause. But shortly after the … Read more

Witherspoon v. McDowell-Wright

Witherspoon v. McDowell-Wright is an important read for any lawyer whose client is deceased.  Rule 502 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure governs the scenario and “permits any party to make a suggestion of death on the record. The Rule then states that proceedings may be had as this court directs. The open-endedness of this … Read more

Commonwealth v. Muhammad

In Commonwealth v. Muhammad, the PA Superior Court ruled that Revised Subchapter H of the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 9799.10—9799.42, was unconstitutional as applied to the defendant because the statute created an irrebuttable presumption that her convictions for interference with custody of children, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, and conspiracy … Read more

Commonwealth v. Santana

An en banc panel of the Superior Court waded into the murky waters of SORNA in Commonwealth v. Santana. The defendant was convicted of rape in New York in 1983 and was released from jail in 2000. Under NY law, he was required to register as a sex offender for life. In 1994, Pennsylvania enacted … Read more

State Farm Ins. Co. v. Kitko

State Farm Ins. Co. v. Kitko involved a dispute over a decedent’s insurance policy. The decedent’s ex-wife and brother both claimed they were the primary beneficiary. On appeal, the ex-wife challenged the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the brother. The Superior Court reversed, holding that the decedent did not effectuate a … Read more

Sampathkumar v. Chase Home Fin.

In Sampathkumar v. Chase Home Fin., the PA Superior Court issued a 49-page opinion, which quashed some of the appellants’ claims because post-trial motions were not filed. As to the merits of the other claims, the Court affirmed the trial court’s refusal to extend the discovery deadline because the appellants did not timely initiate and pursue … Read more

Calabretta v. Guidi Homes, Inc.

In Calabretta v. Guidi Homes, Inc., the Superior Court quashed a home-builder’s appeal that challenged the trial court’s order denying (in part) the home builder’s motion for summary judgment. The home builder claimed that the suit was barred by the statute of repose, which typically protects home builders from suits more than 12 years after … Read more

Commonwealth v. Gross

In Commonwealth v. Gross, the PA Superior Court was asked to decide whether the results of a portable breath test are admissible at a homicide trial. The accused in Gross sought to use the evidence as part of a voluntary intoxication defense. The Court relied on its prior holdings in DUI prosecutions wherein it held that … Read more

Commonwealth v. Johnson

In Commonwealth v. Johnson, the Superior Court confronted an issue critical for lawyers who practice in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The defendant was convicted of robbery in Pennsylvania but had a prior third-degree aggravated assault conviction from New Jersey. The trial court considered the foreign conviction a “strike” under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9714 — … Read more

Commonwealth v. Williams

In Commonwealth v. Williams, after he was convicted of murder, the defendant asserted that the trial court committed a host of evidentiary errors. The Court held: 1. It was proper for the trial court to admit the deceased victim’s text messages into evidence under the party-opponent exception to the rule against hearsay; 2. The Commonwealth … Read more