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Commonwealth v. Cobbs

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

August 17, 2021

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt with a scenario practitioners are unlikely to face in the future. In 1970, the defendant was convicted of murder. The defendant was a juvenile and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. While serving that sentence, he stabbed a fellow inmate in the forehead during an altercation. Under 18 Pa.C.S. ยง 2704, the punishment for assault by a life prisoner is life without the possibility of parole. The defendant was convicted of that offense and sentenced accordingly. In compliance with Miller and Montgomery, he was resentenced to 40-years-to-life for murder. But the assault conviction remained. Through somewhat convoluted logic, the Supreme Court held that the PCRA petition challenging the assault conviction was timely and that Miller and Montgomery undermined the reliability of the defendant’s conviction and sentence for assault by a life prisoner in violation of due process, as they were predicated on his illegal mandatory life sentence imposed for a murder he committed while he was a juvenile.

Cobbs-1-Majority-Opinion

Cobbs-2-Concurring-Opinion-1

Cobbs-2-Concurring-Opinion-2

Cobbs-3-Dissenting-Opinion

Scroll down to read the court's full opinion
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