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. Weeden

The Pennsylvania Superior Court whittled away at criminal defendants’ right to confront their accusers. Here, the defendant appealed after a jury convicted him of aggravated assault and firearms offenses. The defendant claimed he never fired a shot and the complaining witness fabricated the event because he had just financially cut her off. The Commonwealth presented … Read more

State v. Williamson

In State v. Williamson, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an important decision on the intersection of a criminal defendant’s right to confront his accuser and the dying declaration exception to the hearsay rule. Here, the victim was shot five times. When the victim awoke in the hospital and was informed of her critical injuries, … 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

Commonwealth v. Rivera

In Commonwealth v. Rivera, the defendant appealed his convictions of a host of sex offenses. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. First, the Superior Court found that the Supreme Court did not intend to extend the holding of Commonwealth v. McClelland, 233 A.3d 717 (Pa. 2020) (the Commonwealth may not establish … Read more

State v. Garcia

In State v. Garcia, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an important decision on hearsay evidence. In the immediate aftermath of an assault, the defendant’s family rushed to the investigating police officers to tell them their side of the story — presumably to exculpate the defendant. But the officers waved them off and told them … Read more

Commonwealth v. Williams

In Commonwealth v. Williams, the defendant appealed from his convictions for murder and related offenses. At issue was the proper method – if any – for impeaching a hearsay declarant when that declarant did not testify for either party at trial. The issue turned on Pa.R.E. 806, which permits a hearsay declarant’s credibility to be … Read more

State v. C.W.H.

In State v. C.W.H., the New Jersey Appellate Division confronted a problematic trial in which the defendant was convicted of sexually assaulting his young daughter decades after the alleged crimes. The Appellate Division found plain error in testimony admitted from two of the State’s primary witnesses: the investigating detective and a relative who received the … Read more

Commonwealth v. Wallace

In Commonwealth v. Wallace, a jury convicted the defendant of aggravated assault and related charges. On appeal, he claimed seven points of error, including two evidentiary issues. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed. First, the defendant alleged that that the trial court committed reversible error by allowing the jury to view two photographs of the victim’s … Read more

State v. Sims

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