Commonwealth v. Purnell

Testifying in Pennsylvania courts is now a whole lot cuddlier. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was asked to determine whether a witness in a criminal case may utilize a “comfort dog” for support during their trial testimony. A 13-year-old autistic girl witnessed a murder. The killer pointed his gun at her before he ran. Then, the … Read more

27-35 Jackson Ave., LLC v. Samsung Fire & Marine Ins. Co., LLC

If you are an evidence nerd, you’ll find this opinion to be a treat. Plaintiff 27-35 Jackson Avenue LLC owned commercial property in New York. For no apparent reason, a sprinkler head discharged water on the second floor of the premises, damaging the first and second floors. Plaintiff’s principal tenant was the United States General … Read more

In re D.C.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the Tender Years Hearsay Act after the appellant was convicted of sexual offenses based partly on the victim’s out-of-court statements to various family members about the defendant’s actions. On appeal, the defendant claimed that the trial court erred when it determined that the victim was unavailable to testify under the … Read more

Commonweslth v. Dula

The defendant appealed after a jury convicted him of crimes for his sexual abuse of a mentally and physically disabled woman in his care. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed. First, the defendant argued that the trial court erred when it refused to strike a prospective juror for cause after the juror revealed during voir dire … Read more

State v. Howard-French

The defendant alleged the trial court made several evidentiary errors during his trial for the murder of a twenty-three-month-old infant. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the conviction. The defendant made claims about the trial judge’s admission of: prior bad acts; the opinion testimony of a doctor; the non-sanitized statement by a detective accusing the … Read more

Commonwealth v. Lowmiller

The Pennsylvania Superior Court gave a rare rebuke of prior bad acts evidence in a sexual assault case. The 29-year-old defendant was charged with friending a 14-year-old girl on Facebook and then luring her to a secluded area where he sexually assaulted her. He had a previous conviction for engaging in a long-term relationship with … Read more

Commonwealth v. Fitzpatrick

The “state of mind” exception to the hearsay rule took center stage when detectives investigating a homicide found a note the decedent wrote stating, “If something happens to me—JOE.” The decedent also sent an email to herself in which she indicated she feared Joe, her husband. Though the trial court found that the notes were … Read more

Commonwealth v. Orr

The defendant appealed his conviction of first-degree murder and argued the Commonwealth failed to authenticate some text messages. He alleged the Commonwealth did not prove he authored the messages. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed. The Court reviewed a line of cases holding that “the authentication of text messages turns upon the depth of direct and … Read more

Commonwealth v. Yale

In Commonwealth v. Yale, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court clarified the appropriate standard for the admission of evidence of a third person’s crimes, wrongs, or other acts (“third-person guilt”) offered by a criminal defendant to raise a reasonable doubt that he was not the perpetrator of the crime. The Court held that that evidence of a … Read more

Hassan v. Williams

In Hassan v. Williams, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued a must-read opinion, which touched on several evidentiary issues. The Court reviewed a defense-favorable verdict after a rear-end crash involving two commercial trucks. At the trial, the plaintiff sought to introduce testimony from the defendant’s deposition in which he said that rear-ending someone “automatically makes … Read more