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Commonwealth v. Coleman

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

May 19, 2020

Coleman filed a PCRA petition alleging trial counsel’s ineffectiveness for failing to object at two different times during Coleman’s murder trial. The PCRA court and Superior Court found that Coleman’s issues were not meritorious. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court disagreed.


The Court ruled that counsel was ineffective for failing to object to hearsay. The lower courts erred by concluding that the trial testimony was not hearsay because it was not offered for the truth of the matters asserted but, rather, for other limited purposes. The Court held that the lower courts’ determinations in this regard were in conflict with well-settled precedent and, thus, erroneous because the trial court did not instruct the jury to consider the alleged hearsay testimony for only the limited purposes identified by the lower courts. Furthermore, the Superior Court failed to address whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to testimony regarding Coleman’s alleged ownership and use of guns.

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