Commonwealth v. Jordan

A criminal defense attorney’s worst nightmare occurred, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed. The defendant was charged with a gunpoint robbery. He proceeded to a jury trial. But as is standard practice, he severed the gun charge because the Commonwealth must prove the defendant who possessed a gun and has been convicted of a prior … Read more

Commonwealth v. Banks

In Commonwealth v. Banks, the defendant appealed his convictions of DUI, VUFA, and related charges. On appeal, he claimed: 1. the evidence was insufficient to convict him of DUI, and 2. the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the VUFA charges on the grounds of double jeopardy and collateral estoppel in that … Read more

United States v. Brown

In the mid-’90s, state and federal authorities worked together to convict the defendant of arson and murder in a state-level prosecution. Decades later, the defendant learned that the prosecution failed to disclose payoffs made to government witnesses, and he succeeded in overturning his convictions. Now, the federal prosecutors want to retry him in federal court. … Read more

Commonwealth v. Atkinson

Commonwealth v. Atkinson involved an appeal from a trial court’s order denying a motion to dismiss based on the principles of compulsory joinder, 18 Pa.C.S. § 110. In 2013, Atkinson was arrested and charged with DUI and a summary violation of the Motor Vehicle Code (MVC). Two months later, she was found guilty of the … Read more

State v. Smith

State v. Smith was a murder trial, which had been interrupted by the pandemic, where the jury had been impaneled and sworn, and the trial was well underway. The defendants were granted leave to appeal the trial court’s order declaring a mistrial and denying their motions to dismiss the indictment on double jeopardy grounds. The … Read more

Commonwealth v. Hill

In Commonwealth v. Hill, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the defendant’s separate sentences for his convictions of two counts of 75 Pa.C.S. §§ 3802(a)(1) and 3804(c)(1), based on a single criminal act, were a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause. Section 3802 is entitled “Driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance.” 75 … Read more

Commonwealth v. Kemick

In Commonwealth v. Kemick, the Superior Court first determined that the trial court’s oder, denying Kemick’s motion to dismiss the charges based on double jeopardy, was collateral and, thus, appealable. The Court then remanded the case. The trial court contravened Pa.R.Crim.P. 587 because the court did did not conduct a hearing, as defined by the official … Read more

Commonwealth v. Rankin

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

Commonwealth v. Pammer

In Commonwealth v. Pammer, the Superior Court dismissed a DUI prosecution because the Commonwealth failed to comply with the compulsory joinder rule found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 110. The defendant had been charged with traffic offenses stemming from the same incident as the DWI charge and pled to summonses for those traffic offenses before a magisterial … Read more

Commonwealth v. Gross

The PA Supreme Court confronted a defendant who helped supply a firearm to her boyfriend, who eventually used that firearm to kill a police officer in a shootout. The boyfriend was killed in the gunfire. While her state case weaved its way through the courts, she was charged — and eventually pleaded guilty — in … Read more