Welcome to Sullivan | Simon’s summaries of last week’s precedential appellate decisions from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey state courts, as well as the Third Circuit. Click on a case name, and you will be redirected to the court’s entire opinion.
Commonwealth v. Grush (Confrontation, Unavailable Witness)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court gave a detailed analysis on the admissibility of an unavailable witness’s preliminary hearing testimony at trial. The Court emphasized the narrowness of its ruling: the trial court erred in excluding the evidence because Appellee had a “full and fair opportunity” to cross-examine the now-deceased witness.
Commonwealth v. Shackelford (Four Corners Motion, Severance)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed defendant’s conviction for Drug Delivery Resulting in Death. The trial court correctly denied defendant’s suppression motion because the issuing authority had a substantial basis for determining there was a fair probability that contraband would be found at the property. Moreover, the trial court correctly denied defendant’s motion to sever.
Commonwealth v. Laur (Criminal Law, Restitution)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated the trial court’s restitution order. The Court ruled that the Clarion County Jail was not entitled to restitution because, under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1106, the Jail was neither a “victim” nor a government agency providing compensation or reimbursement to the victim.
E. Allen Reeves, Inc. v. Old York, LLC (Civil Law, Arbitration)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court dealt with the distinctions between statutory arbitration under the Pennsylvania Uniform Arbitration Act and common law arbitration. The Court affirmed the arbitrator’s award, in part, because the losing party failed to comply with the procedural requirements of common law arbitration.
Martin v. Donegal Twp. (Administrative Law, Removal of Elected Officials)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed its previous holdings in Bouch and Reese that Article VI, Section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution is the only method by which a township can prematurely end the terms of members of its Board of Supervisors.
Weichsel v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Civil Law, Consumer Fraud)
The Third Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment for defendant. Plaintiff alleged that defendant-bank failed to itemize the annual fees on his credit card renewal notice in violation of the Truth in Lending Act. The Court ruled that there is no requirement to itemize annual fees on renewal notices.
Doyduk v. Att’y Gen. (Immigration Law, Expungement)
The Third Circuit ruled that the Immigration and Nationality Act permits immigration judges to review expunged criminal records. Here, petitioner’s charges of aggravated assault and weapons offenses were automatically expunged in Pennsylvania. The IJ then considered the underlying criminal complaint during an adjustment of status hearing.