The Collective-Knowledge Doctrine

This was a discretionary appeal to the Pa. Supreme Court.  The issue at hand in this case concerns what is called the “collective-knowledge doctrine,” or what is otherwise known as the “fellow-officer rule.”  The important facts are these: Yong was witnessed by one undercover officer to be involved in suspected drug activities at a particular location on one day, then, … Read More

Comm. v. Wright, 2018 PA Super 13 (Jan. 26, 2018)

This is an appeal out of Delaware County.  It involves a DUI charge from 1990 and the application of Rule 600.  (Rule 600 is a Rule of Criminal Procedure that provides a remedy for a speedy-trial violation.  The general rule in Pennsylvania is a defendant must be brought to trial within 365 days of the complaint being filed.) Briefly, the … Read More

Comm. v. McClellan, 2018 PA Super 14 (Jan. 26, 2018)

This was an appeal out of Montgomery County.  McClellan was a parolee, and he was swept up in a “sweep of local bars” by his parole officer.  The parole officer spotted McClellan exiting a bar at 11:30 p.m. though conditions of McClellan’s parole required him to be home by 8:00 p.m. and not be in drinking establishments. When McClellan was … Read More

Comm. v. Raglin, 2018 PA Super 12 (Jan. 23, 2018)

This was an appeal out of Allegheny County.  The issue presented to the Superior Court concerned the use of “Shot Spotter” technology and its factoring into an analysis of whether there is reasonable suspicion to detain someone. A Shot Spotter system is technology used to detect gunshots in a particular location.  An alert tone comes to the desktop monitor giving … Read More

Comm. v. Edwards, 2018 PA Super 9 (Jan. 19, 2018)

This was an appeal out of Philadelphia County addressing a Batson challenge.  (The term Batson challenge comes from the U.S. Supreme Court case of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), which held that “a prosecutor’s challenge to potential jurors solely on the basis of race violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”  A Batson challenge arises … Read More

Comm. v. Motley, 2018 PA Super 8 (Jan. 19, 2018)

This was an appeal out of Philadelphia County, and the lead up to the appeal was this.  Antoine Motley had been given a sentence of 15 to 30 years imprisonment followed by 10 years of probation on robbery and gun charges.  His sentencing was in June of 2012. Motley did originally file an appeal, but the Superior Court upheld Motley’s … Read More

Comm. v. Davison, 2018 PA Super 7 (Jan. 18, 2018)

This was an appeal out of Allegheny County. Shawn Davison had been convicted of robbery and harassment.  On appeal he complained that he was convicted of robbery without sufficient evidence.  Specifically, he complains that the victim of the robbery “never stated at trial that she had been in substantial pain, which is a necessary element to prove she sustained bodily … Read More

Comm. v. Tyrrell, 2018 PA Super 5 (Jan. 17, 2018)

This was an appeal out of Dauphin County.  Jonathan Tyrrel was convicted and sentenced to 50 to 100 years’ imprisonment on charges of raping his then eight-year-old daughter. On appeal, Tyrrell raised three issues.  The first issue challenged a statement he gave to police.  Tyrrell said that his statement was involuntary—it was taken from him as a result of police … Read More

“There’s no evidence. There’s no proof.”

For people involved in the American justice system for the first time—be it civil or criminal—there’s a prevailing belief that if the opposing side doesn’t have pictures, video, DNA, or some other sort of physical evidence, then, well, “there’s no proof.”  I hear this frequently from clients, and it’s a common misconception.  In fact, in a majority of cases the … Read More