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. Kurtz (Suppression, Google Search)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that Appellant lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning his IP address and Google searches of the victim’s home address. “By typing in his search query into the search engine and pressing enter, Appellant affirmatively turned over the contents of his search to Google, a third party, and voluntarily relinquished his privacy interest in the search.” This opinion also offers a robust analysis on the constitutionality of a cell “tower dump.”
Commonwealth v. Santiago (Criminal Law, Serious Bodily Injury)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that punching someone (here, a police officer) once, causing a concussion, is sufficient to prove aggravated assault. The Court ruled that a concussion is a serious bodily injury because it is harm causing protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ.
Penncrest Sch. Dist. v. Cagle (Administrative Law, Right to Know Law)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court detailed three nonexclusive factors to resolve the case’s novel issue: Is a school board member’s public social media post a transaction or “activity of the school board” or created in connection with a transaction, business, or activity “of the school board?” 65 P.S. § 67.102.
Pa. Pub. Util. Comm’n v. Friedman (Administrative Law, Right to Know Law)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that the Office of Open Records (OOR) did not have the authority to consider whether the letters or records at issue contained confidential security information (CSI) or were CSI. However, with regard to non-CSI transmittal letters and records, the Court held that the OOR could determine whether those records were subject to disclosure under the Right to Know Law.
McNew v. E. Marlborough Twp. (Zoning, Preliminary Objections)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court sustained one preliminary injunction the Township filed after McNew sought to invalidate and/or enjoin the enforcement of an ordinance relating to local forestry and timber harvesting. McNew failed to state a claim because the Court could not direct the Township to issue a timber harvesting permit.
In re Nomination Petitions of Kosko (Election Law)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the order that dismissed the Petition to Set Aside the Nomination Petitions of Paul Kosko. The Court held that candidates for county-wide offices may properly file their statements of financial interests by submitting them to the county’s election board along with their nomination petitions.
Twp. of Marple v. Pa. Public Utility Comm’n (Administrative Law)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court vacated the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s decision regarding PECO’s petition for a proposed gas reliability station. The Court ruled that the Commission must incorporate the results of a constitutionally sound environmental impact review.
Chavers v. 1605 Valley Center Pky, LP (Civil Law, Personal Injury)
This matter began when an employee tripped on the employer’s premises. After a settlement with the workers’ compensation carrier and a jury trial, both parties appealed. The Pennsylvania Superior Court dealt with ten issues, including evidentiary, sufficiency, and weight challenges. In the end, the Court remanded the matter.
The appellate courts did not issue precedential opinions last week as the judges prepared for the impending summer season at the shore.
United States v. Diaz (Sentencing, No-Contact Order)
The Third Circuit held that a district court does not have the authority to issue a no-contact order during a defendant’s term of incarceration. However, a district court may issue a no-contact order during a defendant’s supervised release term.
Cortez-Amador v. Att’y Gen. (Immigration, Special Immigrant)
The Third Circuit ruled that a child admitted to the United States under Special Immigrant Juvenile Status as a “special immigrant,” as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101, is removable. The child argued to no avail that special immigrants were exempt from removal under 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(A)(i).
Singh v. Uber Technologies, Inc. (Civil Law, Arbitration)
The Third Circuit took the side of Uber drivers in this case. The Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act applies to Uber drivers because their work “is centered on local transportation. Most Uber drivers have never made a single interstate trip.”