Dockery v. Wolf

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, acting in its original jurisdiction, granted Governor Tom Wolf’s preliminary objections because the Court lacked subject matter to jurisdiction to review a claim that the second-degree murder penalty statute the plaintiff was sentenced under was unconstitutional. The Court found that the claim should be brought in the Court of Common Pleas … Read more

Commonwealth v. Prater

Appellant filed a PCRA petition, claiming that his original sentence was illegal and seeking a new trial on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. The PCRA court held that Appellant’s original sentence was illegal and imposed a new sentence, but it rejected Appellant’s claims of ineffective assistance. He appealed, and the Pennsylvania Superior Court … Read more

Henry v. Wolf

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, acting in its original jurisdiction, granted Governor Tom Wolf’s preliminary objections because the Court lacked subject matter to jurisdiction to review a claim that the first-degree murder penalty statute the plaintiff was sentenced under was unconstitutional. The Court found that the claim should be brought in the Court of Common Pleas … Read more

Commonwealth v. Hand

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief for a defendant who made allegations of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The case was a pre-Birchfield blood-draw DUI. The defendant claimed counsel was ineffective for failing to object when a police officer opined why there were exigent circumstances for a warrant. The Superior Court … Read more

Commonwealth v. Hairston

In Commonwealth v. Hairston, a capital PCRA appeal, Hairston challenged the dismissal of his PCRA petition. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hairston failed to present convincing new evidence that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment or of Article I, Section 13 of the PA Constitution. Also, … Read more

Commonwealth v. Lopez

Commonwealth v. Lopez involved a serial capital post-conviction appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In his PCRA petition, the defendant claimed that a cooperating witness — the defendant’s co-conspirator — was given a better deal than was disclosed to the defendant and the jury. At trial, the Commonwealth and the cooperating witness claimed that the … Read more

Commonwealth v. Orner

In Commonwealth v. Orner, an en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the Court of Common Pleas’ order, which granted the defendant a new trial. The defendant was convicted of sexually assaulting his neighbor, but he maintained that the encounter was consensual. His first two trials ended in mistrials. His attorney forgot to notify … Read more

Commonwealth v. Sims

In Commonwealth v. Sims, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of Appellant’s fourth PCRA petition. The petition, titled “Motion for DNA Testing,” was comprised of allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel and that the Commonwealth improperly destroyed his blood samples before trial which resulted in an unfair trial. The Court ruled that … Read more

Commonwealth v. Snyder

The Pennsylvania Superior Court’s opinion in Commonwealth v. Snyder reads more like a cautionary tale than an opinion. A jury convicted the defendant of access device fraud. With new counsel, he appealed but was unsuccessful. He then filed a pro se PCRA petition in which he alleged that both his trial and appellate lawyers were … Read more

Commonwealth v. Howard

In Commonwealth v. Howard, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the lower court’s dismissal of Appellant’s third PCRA petition. The Court held that a Joint State Government Commission Report on Capital Punishment was not newly-discovered evidence of racial discrimination that occurred during his jury selection process, providing a factual basis to support several constitutional claims that … Read more