The Appellate Division dealt with two important constitutional issues in State v. Sims. First, the Court was asked to determine whether police officers were required to inform the defendant of the charges he was arrested for, even if no charges had yet to be formally filed. Relying on the New Jersey Supreme Court’s holdings in … Read more
In Commonwealth v. Leone, the Superior Court held that the defendant’s designation as a sexually violent predator (SVP) was constitutional. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court previously held in Commonwealth v. Butler, 226 A.3d 972 (Pa. 2020), that the mechanism by which defendants are determined to be SVPs is constitutional.
In Commonwealth v. Mojica, the defendant filed a pro se PCRA petition after he was convicted, but before sentencing, and while he was still represented by counsel. In the petition, he made sufficiency and weight claims. The PCRA court ignored the pro se petition and sentenced the defendant. The Superior Court noted that it was … Read more
In Commonwealth v. Davis, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the process by which prosecuting authorities can refile criminal charges pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 544. In Davis, after a preliminary hearing, a magisterial district judge dismissed charges. The Commonwealth sought to refile the complaint but went to a different MDJ to do so. Then the case proceeded … Read more
In McMichael v. McMichael, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave quality primers on the difference between a survival action and a wrongful death action as well as the difference between economic and non-economic damages. In this wrongful death and survival action, the jury awarded the decedent’s surviving spouse zero dollars in damages — economic and non-economic … Read more
In Commonwealth v. Betts, the Superior Court set forth the proper procedure for criminal defendants who wish to allege that their attorneys rendered ineffective assistance of counsel during PCRA proceedings in the Courts of Common Pleas. Defendants are obliged to raise their claims in response to the lower courts’ notice of intent to dismiss pursuant … Read more
The Appellate Division in In re Z.S. vacated the family court’s order, which waived jurisdiction and directed that 17-year-old Z.S. be prosecuted as an adult on charges under the Jessica Lunsford Act. The Appellate Division found that the prosecutor’s statement of reasons was “materially deficient.” Importantly, the juvenile was functioning cognitively as a 13-year-old and was deemed developmentally … Read more
Bill Clinton made us all ask what the definition of “is” is. In Commonwealth v. McClelland, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court debated the meaning of “any,” overruled Commonwealth v. Ricker, and held that the Commonwealth may not establish a prima facie case at a preliminary hearing with hearsay alone.
When the Superior Court says it is going to employ “rationality and realism,” you know you’re in for a doozy. In Commonwealth v. Rankin, the Commonwealth charged the defendant with misdemeanors and summaries related to traffic tickets and poor driving. A jury acquitted him of the misdemeanor, but the trial judge immediately convicted him on … Read more
Two defendant-physicians appealed the State’s use of grand jury subpoenas to access information contained in New Jersey’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which is a state-run database that keeps track of prescriptions of controlled dangerous substances. The Appellate Division determined that law enforcement agents properly sought subpoenas in the name of the investigating grand jury and … Read more