An accomplice’s and his girlfriend’s word to one officer can make up good probable cause for another officer to make a warrantless arrest. (And apparently the enforcement of plea agreements are excepted from the time constraints of the PCRA.)

Comm. v. Brogdon, 2019 PA Super 297 (Oct. 3, 2019) Out of Philadelphia County.  Brogdon was convicted at a bench trial of violations of the Uniform Firearms Act (i.e. person not to possess and carrying without a license), and he complained on appeal that the trial court should’ve granted his suppression motion.   The basis of Brogdon’s suppression was that … Read More

Abuse of discretion for dismissing charges when witnesses “on their way”; smell of marijuana still good PC; and a favorable opinion for the defense bar.

Comm. v. Ligon, 2019 PA Super 290 (Sept. 24, 2019) Out of Philadelphia.  This en banc decision was unanimous.  The Court held that the that trial court abused its discretion when it dismissed the underlying action due to the complaining witness’s absence from the start of trial. The case was an old case, originating in 2012, and it involved numerous … Read More

Pa. Supreme Court speaks to waiver/preservation issues, overbroad warrants, effect of bankruptcy on restitution, and ability-to-pay-fine determinations in a negotiated plea context

Supreme Court Allocatur Grants Comm. v. Alexander, 151 EAL 2019 (Sept. 24, 2019) In this case involving the warrantless search of a locked metal box in a car following the arrest of the driver, should not this court decide whether Commonwealth v. Gary, 91 A.3d 102 (Pa. 2014), should be overruled or limited as being inconsistent with privacy protections under … Read More

Separation-of-powers questions, lawfulness of mandatory-minimum under § 6111(h), and recurring evolutions with the Walker decision.

Supreme Court Allocatur Grant (9/10/19) Comm. v. Mason, 202 MAL 2019 Whether a babysitter has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the bedroom of a child she is caring for? Whether the sounds resulting from a child being forcibly thrown into a crib and being beaten by [Mason] constitute “oral communications” or “evidence derived therefrom” under the Pennsylvania wiretap statute? … Read More

Pa. Supreme Court opinions and allocatur grants (August ’19 – Pres.)

Comm. v. Foster, __ A.3d __ (Pa. Aug. 20, 2019) This was a discretionary appeal out of Philadelphia.  “The issue presented in this case asks for a determination of what constitutes a permissible basis for a court to find an individual in violation of probation.” The reasoning to follow by Justice Donohue gives a flavor for this case and why … Read More

Supreme Decisions: In-court IDs; Private Search Doctrine; alibi instructions; government interviews of trial counsel; evidentiary consequences for DUI blood refusals.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued some important decisions in the past two months in the realm of criminal law and procedure.  I detail the holdings of these opinions, note points of interest from the thoughtful concurrences/dissents filed, and offer some of my personal observations.   Comm. v. Santiago, __ A.3d __ (Pa., June 18, 2019) This was a 5-2 … Read More

Superior Court hears IAC claim in first instance, and expands on SCOTUS Carpenter case dealing with cell site location information (CSLI)

Comm. v. Shaw, 2019 PA Super 207 (July 3, 2019) Out of Delaware County.  This was an appeal from the denial of a post-conviction petition (PCRA).  The background can get a little convoluted, but here’s my best shot at summarizing the pertinent facts in plain English. Shaw was convicted of attempted murder and other felony offenses based upon some shaky … Read More

Back-and-forth under the Rape Shield Law, and double-jeopardy problems where there’s two sentences for one substance

Comm. v. Jerdon, 2019 PA Super 202 (July 1, 2019) Out of Delaware County.  This was a Commonwealth (interlocutory) appeal from a pretrial ruling in favor of the defendant, Jerdon.  Jerdon is on trial for sexual-assault accusations stemming from 1997 to 1999.  At that time Jerdon’s stepson had accused him of sexually touching the alleged victim in Jerdon’s bedroom.  The … Read More

Police syntax in a Fourth Amendment analysis, and trial courts wresting deadlocked charges from a jury

Comm. v. Luczki, 2019 PA Super 179 (June 7, 2019) Out of Allegheny County.  The Superior Court affirmed the trial judge’s denial of suppression, the circumstances of which involved a plain-clothes police officer, displaying his badge, saying to Appellant, “I need to speak with you,” after seeing him and his co-defendant engage in suspicious behavior in a high-crime area of … Read More