In Commonwealth v. Gross, the PA Superior Court was asked to decide whether the results of a portable breath test are admissible at a homicide trial. The accused in Gross sought to use the evidence as part of a voluntary intoxication defense. The Court relied on its prior holdings in DUI prosecutions wherein it held that … Read more
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
In Commonwealth v. Bonnett, the Superior Court reviewed a trial court’s decision to deny the defendant a Frye hearing to challenge the methodology of a Commonwealth witness. The witness at issue was a purported expert in the field of fire investigation. The defendant claimed that the expert witness did not employ the methodology that they claimed … Read more
In United States v. Williams, the 3rd Circuit affirmed the convictions of ten codefendants whose claims of error involved the right to a public trial, suppression as well as other evidentiary issues, and sentencing. In a 107-page opinion, the Court did not find merit in most of the defendants’ claims. But the 3rd Circuit vacated one … Read more
In Rosen v. Superintendent of SCI Mahanoy, the 3rd Circuit affirmed the denial of the defendant’s habeas petition, ruling that the defendant failed to demonstrate that the Commonwealth’s use at trial of his statements to the Commonwealth’s psychiatric expert for the limited purpose of impeachment violated clearly established Fifth Amendment law.
The 3rd Circuit probably wants its decision in U.S. v. Heinrich to be read more by district judges than by lawyers. The district judge “ruled” that the defense could not call a particular expert based on Rule 403. But that “ruling” came from the judge’s law clerk during an off-the-record telephone call in which the district … Read more
The Court of the Appellate Division affirmed the defendant’s conviction for possession of a gun, holding that, though the trial court erred in admitting the defendant’s prior convictions, the error was harmless. The Court also ruled that an NJ State Police “no-permit” affidavit is non-testimonial hearsay, and its admission without the signer’s appearance did not … Read more
In Commonwealth v. DiStefano, the Superior Court ruled that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding evidence related to causation of the victim’s death.
Bill Clinton made us all ask what the definition of “is” is. In Commonwealth v. McClelland, the PA 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.
In Commonwealth v. Tallley, the Superior Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for stalking and related crimes. On appeal, the defendant unsuccessfully argued that the trial court erred when: 1. it denied his 600B motion; 2. it sentenced him on two different sections of PA’s stalking statute; and 3. it admitted screenshots of text messages from … Read more