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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Blog

Round-Up 12/7/17

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 in Round-ups | 0 comments

It’s always strange to wake up to find that TMZ is covering Pennsylania law. Coverage of Rapper Meek Mill’s curious case continues with calls for investigation into the trial judge who sentenced him. NBC News covers CCP Judge Brinkley’s ruling that Mill is a “danger to the community.” Meanwhile, several organizations are calling for investigations into Brinkley’s allegedly unethical behavior both in this case, and in Financial Interest filings. Complex and XXL Magazine discuss the organizations pursuing an...

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Roundup – 12/5/17

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in Round-ups | 0 comments

The Court is getting a lot of coverage this year, and Pennsylvania law has been back in the spotlight with more high-profile cases. To that end, a judge on the Superior Court has denied rapper Meek Mill’s Bail Request. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is likely. In another important Superior Court case, a ruling issued requiring a man to turn over his computer password over his Fifth Amendment objection. His lawyer promise an appeal to SCOPA, and appears to be a case of first impression in Pennsylvania. In an interesting...

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Scarnati v. Wolf: Press Releases aren’t “Proclamations”

Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in Civil, Constitutional Provisions | 0 comments

In Scarnati v. Wolf, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rules 6-1 that a press release does not satisfy the Pennsylvania Constitution’s requirement of veto by proclamation under Article IV, Section 15. In 2014, two appropriations bills passed the House and Senate, and were presented to the Governor for his signature. The House adjourned upon passing the bill, and the Governor vetoed the bill, returning it to the parliamentarian of the House. Unlike under the Federal Constitution, where the President’s veto back to the House would be the end of...

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Com v. Livingstone: You’re Drunk, I presume.

Posted by on Dec 1, 2017 in Criminal, Suppression | 0 comments

In Commonwealth v. Livingstone, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that a police officer must have articulable explanation for his “community caretaking” to use it as an exception to the warrant requirement. Late one evening, Trooper Frantz was out on I-79 (named for former Pennsylvania Governer Raymond Shafer) when he saw a car stopped on the side of the road, with no hazard lights on. Concerned that the motorist might be having trouble, he turned on his emergency lights and pulled up next to her. He rolled down his window and spoke to...

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In re 2014 Allegheny County Grand Jury: Mootness ruling must be based on facts

Posted by on Dec 1, 2017 in Civil, Justiciability | 0 comments

In an unusually brief, unanimous opinion, Chief Justice Saylor ruled that the Superior Court erred in finding a dispute between two parties moot where the facts of record did not clearly demonstrate mootness. WPXI, a television station, sought access to certain sealed grand jury documents about a sex scandal at a local school on the basis of Pennsylvania’s common law right of public access to judicial documents. The Commonwealth fought the disclosure of the documents based on the need for privacy in grand jury proceedings. The trial...

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Miller v. County of Centre: District Attorneys are not “Judicial Agencies” exempt from Right to Know disclosure requirements

Posted by on Nov 23, 2017 in Civil, Right to Know | 0 comments

Right to Know (RTK) requests by several defense attorneys in Centre County (home of Mount Nittany) revealed communications between DA Stacy Parks Miller and judges on CCP and MDC, which the defense attorneys used to demonstrate ex parte communications in various cases. The County handed over all documents requested without consulting with Parks Miller or the judicial staffs. Parks Miller sued for an injunction prohibiting future disclosures on the basis that she is not subject to the general disclosure requirements of the Right to Know Law...

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Erie Ins. Exchange v. Bristol: SOL on UM claims begins to run at refusal to arbitrate

Posted by on Nov 23, 2017 in Civil, Insurance, Statutes of Limitations | 0 comments

On July 22, 2005, Mr. Bristol was injured when he was struck in a hit and run accident within the scope of his employment in Upper Dublin Township (childhood home of Josh Singer, an Emmy-nominee and Oscar winner). Two years later, Bristol’s attorney put Erie on notice of the uninsured motorist (UM) claim, and Erie responded with a “reservation of rights” letter. Both parties agreed to several of the arbitrators and engaged in negotiation. Bristol had to put the matter on hold for a few years when he was incarcerated on unrelated matters. But...

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In re Roca, In re Segal: No, we can’t just ignore the Constitution

Posted by on Nov 23, 2017 in Attorney Discipline, Civil, Constitutional Provisions | 0 comments

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is, perhaps, the most powerful state Supreme Court within its own jurisdiction. Given comprehensive power over all attorney discipline matters by the state Constitution, our Supreme Court has struck down validly-passed statutes that transgress this judicial power. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court also maintains “King’s Bench” authority to step into any case at any time and render a decision on any matter, great or small, within a case. Other jurisdictions limit their high courts by practice or rule. These cases...

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Com v. Maconeghy, Jr.: Medical testimony based on nothing but another witness’s testimony is not all right, all right, all right

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Criminal, Expert Testimony, Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence | 0 comments

In a criminal prosecution about sexual assault of a child, a medical doctor opined, “The history [the child] provided to me pretty clearly indicated that she was sexually abused.” The doctor concluded with this classic statement of scientific certainty: “I really believe strongly that was my medical conclusion that this child was victimized.” Can a doctor testify to a medical opinion based entirely on the “history” provided by the alleged victim? Our Supreme Court rules that the doctor cannot offer such testimony because such testimony...

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Com. v. Spotz: This is getting old

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Criminal | 0 comments

The Post-Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) allows a criminal defendant to file a petition within one year of final judgment seeking review of his conviction. This protection ensures that every criminal defendant will have at least two chances to prove that a mistake sent them to prison—or worse, to death row. The Supreme Court of Pennsylania maintains mandatory and exclusive jurisdiction of all death penalty appeals, whether on direct or collateral action. This includes PCRA appeals—even where the PCRA board found that the petition was totally...

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