Below are our 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. Muhammad (Criminal Law, Suppression)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that a police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop a suspect and search his vehicle. The officer was responding to a call of a person passing fraudulent checks at a bank, and the defendant’s parked car partially matched the description provided by a teller.
Commonwealth v. Journo (Criminal Law, Rule of Specialty)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court rejected defendant’s claim that the Commonwealth violated the Rule of Specialty in the Protocol, which prohibits the detention, trial, or punishment of an extradited person for offenses other than the offense for which extradition was granted or a lesser included offense based on the same facts.
Iron City Constr., Inc. v. Westmoreland Wooded Acres, Inc. (Jurisdiction, Property Law)
Westmoreland appealed from an order denying its motion to strike a lis pendens. The Pennsylvania Superior Court quashed the appeal as interlocutory. The Court concluded that the order was not appealable because the lower court’s order refusing to strike a lis pendens did not dispose of all claims of all parties and was, thus, not a final, appealable order over which the Court had jurisdiction.
Commonwealth v. Miller (Administrative Law, License to Carry)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the revocation of Miller’s license to carry a firearm and the denial of Miller’s application to carry a firearm. The Court determined that the county sheriff’s office acted lawfully.
T.J. v. Pa. State Police (Administrative Law, SORNA)
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court denied the petitioner’s application for summary relief. Petitioner’s amended petition for review sought a declaration that he is no longer required to register as a sex offender and that his personal information must be removed from the Pennsylvania State Police sex offender registry.
In re K.E.G. (Family Law, Parental Rights)
The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the lower court erred by failing to appoint legal counsel for a child during involuntary termination of parental rights proceedings. 23 Pa.C.S. § 2313(a) requires the trial court to “appoint an attorney to represent the child’s legal interests.”
State v. Canfield (Criminal Law, Jury Instructions)
The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s determination that the trial court did not commit plain error by failing to charge the jury on the lesser-included offense of passion/provocation manslaughter when defendant did not request the instruction.
State v. A.M. and State v. Oliver (Criminal Law, Compassionate Release)
In these consolidated appeals, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the Compassionate Release Act, enacted in 2020, affords judges the discretion to deny relief when “extraordinary aggravating factors exist” that justify the denial of compassionate release, even if defendant satisfies the law’s medical and public safety conditions.
United States v. Gallam (Criminal Law, Public Trial)
The Third Circuit ruled that the trial court did not violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial when the court closed the courtroom during pretrial hearings. Also, the Third Circuit relied on Rehaif v. United States in holding that the prosecution properly presented details about the defendant’s prior conviction.