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Weekly Caselaw Updates

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Commonwealth v. Hipps

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the Court of Common Pleas order that granted the defendant's second PCRA petition. The defendant tried to sidestep the PCRA's time bar with a newly-discovered evidence argument. He claimed that his initial PCRA counsel failed to assert non-frivolous claims or, in the alternative, argued only…

Commonwealth v. Hipps
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the Court of Common Pleas order that granted the defendant’s second PCRA petition. The defendant tried to sidestep the PCRA’s time bar with a newly-discovered evidence argument. He claimed that his initial PCRA counsel failed to assert non-frivolous claims or, in the alternative, argued only frivolous claims. The Court disagreed,… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Hipps

Commonwealth v. Parrish
Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the denial of PCRA relief in this capital case. On appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendant raised numerous claims of error, including a layered ineffectiveness claim in connection with trial counsel’s failure to file a notice of appeal. But the rules of court demand that the Supreme Court review… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Parrish

Commonwealth v. Fantauzzi
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated the defendant’s sentence and ruled that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to resentence him. The case’s procedural history is tortured but can be summarized as follows: 1.) The lower court granted collateral relief in the form of a new sentencing proceeding resulting in the defendant’s 2015 judgment of sentence; 2.)… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Fantauzzi

Commonwealth v. Wilson
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of the defendant’s PCRA petition, which claimed the ineffectiveness of trial and appellate counsels. First, the defendant alleged that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to appeal the trial court’s decision to allow the Commonwealth to introduce into evidence prison visitation logs. Second, the defendant asserted that appellate… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Wilson

Commonwealth v. Hardy
Pennsylvania Superior Court

Read this opinion for a primer on PCRA petitions requesting DNA testing. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of the defendant’s petition, which sought post-conviction DNA testing. Twenty years after his murder conviction, the defendant filed a PCRA petition, requesting DNA testing of various pieces of evidence. The lower court denied the petition, and… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Hardy

Commonwealth v. Bates
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the lower court’s order dismissing the defendant’s second PCRA petition. The case’s procedural history is convoluted. In short, the lower court and the Superior Court erroneously allowed the defendant to litigate the entirety of his first PCRA petition pro se. The Superior Court held that in accordance with “our Supreme… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Bates

Commonwealth v. Murchinson
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the defendant’s PCRA petition. The defendant filed a petition for DNA testing. The lower court granted the petition. The defendant then filed a PCRA petition alleging that newly-obtained, exculpatory DNA test results met the criteria for after-acquired evidence that would entitle him to relief. The… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Murchinson

Commonwealth v. Woolstrum
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In an opinion hardly longer than this summary, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reaffirmed its prior holding that “a judgment of sentence becomes final the day an appellant discontinues his direct appeal.” On June 16, 2020, the appellant filed a petition seeking relief under the Post Conviction Relief Act. But he had voluntarily discontinued his direct… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Woolstrum

Commonwealth v. Thomas
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that plea counsel was not ineffective. The petitioner, a citizen of India, pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute. Two weeks later, the U.S. government initiated deportation proceedings. The petitioner filed a PCRA petition and alleged that plea counsel was ineffective for not requesting a translator and advising… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Thomas

Commonwealth v. Washington
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the lower court and granted the defendant’s PCRA petition. A jury convicted the defendant of three counts of solicitation to commit homicide. After his convictions were affirmed, the defendant filed a PCRA petition and alleged trial counsel’s ineffectiveness. The petition asserted that trial counsel provided erroneous advice concerning his prior convictions,… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Washington