State v. Singh

In State v. Singh, at the defendant’s trial for robbing a gas station, a police detective testified and narrated surveillance video footage. During the narration, he referred to an individual depicted in the video as “the defendant” twice. Defense counsel did not object. While showing the surveillance footage, the prosecutor asked about “the defendant’s shoes.” … Read more

Commonwealth v. Bennett

In Commonwealth v. Bennett, the Superior Court disavowed the defendant’s “gamesmanship” employed to use the compulsory-joinder rule, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 110, as a bar to further prosecution. The defendant was stopped for traffic violations, and a subsequent search of the car uncovered a gun. He was cited for the traffic violations and charged criminally for … Read more

State v. Williams

In State v. Williams, a jury convicted the defendant of bank robbery. In her summation, the prosecutor displayed to the jury a PowerPoint slide with the heading “ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.” The slide contained a still-shot from the movie ‘The Shining’, depicting Jack Nicholson in his role as a violent psychopath who used an … Read more

Commonwealth v. Ballard

In Commonwealth v. Ballard, the defendant was found in possession of multiple credit cards that were alleged to be fraudulent because the information contained in the magnetic strips did not match the names and numbers imprinted on the cards themselves. After a bench trial, the defendant was convicted of access device fraud and identity theft. … Read more

Commonwealth v. Asher

While Commonwealth v. Asher was pending in the Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rendered its decision in Commonwealth v. Torsilieri, 232 A.3d 567 (Pa. 2020). In Torsilieri, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether SORNA’s inherent irrebuttable presumption that sex offenders are likely to recidivate violates due process. In Torsilieri, the Supreme Court … Read more

United States v. Heatherly

The defendants frequented an internet chat room where users regularly shared child pornography. One user repeatedly live-streamed himself raping and sexually abusing his six-year-old nephew. The defendants encouraged him as he did so. And they repeatedly asked users for other child pornography videos. A  jury convicted the men of receiving child pornography and conspiring to … Read more

State v. Chen

In State v. Chen, three knuckleheads set fire to a variety of items, including a mattress and trash bin. Unsurprisingly, this incident involved alcohol and a frat party. A few third-degree burns later, the defendants were charged with arson. They applied to the Pretrial Intervention Program. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office received the defendants’ applications … Read more

Commonwealth v. Caviness

In Commonwealth v. Caviness, the Superior Court issued a predictable ruling in the face of a rather novel petition seeking the return of property. The defendant was charged with various crimes. And as part of the investigation, law enforcement seized laptops, tablets and other devices that families tend to have around the house. The return … Read more

Commonwealth v. Williams

In Commonwealth v. Williams, after he was convicted of murder, the defendant asserted that the trial court committed a host of evidentiary errors. The Court held: 1. It was proper for the trial court to admit the deceased victim’s text messages into evidence under the party-opponent exception to the rule against hearsay; 2. The Commonwealth … Read more

Commonwealth v. Hill

Sammy Hill was serving a life sentence at the State Correctional Facility at Smithfield when he was caught with synthetic marijuana. He was charged accordingly. The Honorable George N. Zanic dismissed the case because it is stupid to waste resources prosecuting someone already serving a life sentence with no chance of parole. In Commonwealth v. … Read more