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Commonwealth v. Montalvo

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

January 20, 2021

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the PCRA court’s order, granting a capital defendant a new guilty-phase hearing (trial) in Commonwealth v. Montalvo. The Supreme Court held that the trial judge twice incorrectly stated the governing law in her closing instructions to the jury. Both times, the trial judge appeared to misspeak, stating that, “if the Commonwealth has not sustained it’s (sic) burden to that level, the burden of proving the Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then your verdict must be guilty[,]” and “if you find that the Defendant was not involved in this, you should find him guilty of all those charges.” The Supreme Court held that those misstatements warranted a new trial.

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