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Weekly Caselaw Updates

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Commonwealth v. Merced

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the trial court’s grant of habeas corpus relief because the lower court erroneously excluded the arresting officer’s hearsay evidence from the court’s scope of review. After being held over on charges associated with allegations of sexual abuse, the defendant filed a habeas corpus petition and…

Commonwealth v. Merced
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the trial court’s grant of habeas corpus relief because the lower court erroneously excluded the arresting officer’s hearsay evidence from the court’s scope of review. After being held over on charges associated with allegations of sexual abuse, the defendant filed a habeas corpus petition and argued the Commonwealth had violated… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Merced

Commonwealth v. Fretts
Pennsylvania Superior Court

With a substantial reliance on Commonwealth v. Sanders, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the Commonwealth failed to make out a prima facie case of homicide by vehicle in a well-publicized incident where a trash truck struck and killed a bicyclist. The Court held that the Commonwealth did not offer any evidence that the defendant operated the trash truck recklessly. The Commonwealth… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Fretts

Commonwealth v. Wroten
Pennsylvania Superior Court

The Pennsylvania Superior Court heard the Commonwealth’s appeal from the lower court’s order dismissing the prosecution at the preliminary hearing level for failure to establish the crimes. Initially, the Court sidestepped an interesting question: Under McClelland, at a refile-level preliminary hearing, can the Commonwealth establish its case with the transcript from the earlier live hearing?… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Wroten

Commonwealth v. Perez
Pennsylvania Supreme Court

In Commonwealth v. Perez, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed the sufficiency of the evidence at a preliminary hearing in a first-degree murder prosecution. The Commonwealth alleged that the defendant fatally stabbed the victim at a nightclub, but no witness at the crowded club had a good view of the attack. Thus the identity of the… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Perez

Commonwealth v. Lambert
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Lambert, defense counsel filed a motion for a writ of habeas corpus after the defendant’s preliminary hearing. At the motion’s hearing, the Commonwealth did not present any evidence and asserted that the Commonwealth was entitled to rely on “what happened at the preliminary hearing.” The trial court granted the writ and dismissed… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Lambert

Commonwealth v. Davis
Pennsylvania Superior Court

In Commonwealth v. Davis, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the process by which prosecuting authorities can refile criminal charges pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 544. In Davis, after a preliminary hearing, a magisterial district judge dismissed charges. The Commonwealth sought to refile the complaint but went to a different MDJ to do so. Then the case proceeded… Continue reading Commonwealth v. Davis

Commonwealth v. McClelland
Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Bill Clinton made us all ask what the definition of “is” is. In Commonwealth v. McClelland, the Pennsylvania 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.

Commonwealth v. Montgomery
Pennsylvania Supreme Court

In Commonwealth v. Montgomery, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that an inquiry into whether or not a firearm is “concealed” under section 6016 of the Uniform Firearms Act is a heavily fact-specific inquiry and evidence that the defendant carried a gun “partially tucked into his waistband” can be sufficient evidence to establish concealment.