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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Blog

Com v. Wholaver: PCRA death penalty appeal yields nothing of interest

Posted by on Jan 31, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The unanimous Court rejected the arguments of a PCRA petitioner in Com v. Wholaver. As regular followers of the Court are aware, all death penalty cases result in a direct appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, even on collateral review. These cases often yield little of interest to the practitioner, and this case is such an example. Wholaver challenged his conviction for murder on eleven different grounds, including inadequate assistance of counsel, a Brady violation, prosecutorial misconduct, striking a juror for cause, hearsay, and...

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League of Women Voters v. Com: Congressional Map Violates PA Constitution

Posted by on Jan 22, 2018 in Constitutional Provisions | 0 comments

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided today in a 4-3 per curiam decision that the congressional map drawn by the General Assembly is too partisan, and must be stricken because it violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. “[T]he Court finds as a matter of law that the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011 clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional.” The Court then enjoined the map’s use for the upcoming...

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Gerrymandering Oral Argument Roundup 1-18-18

Posted by on Jan 18, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Our roundup is all about Gerrymandering today. The Allentown Morning Call covers the oral argument and provides quotes from political operatives on both sides. The Philly Inquirer gives a balanced look at the lawsuits possible outcomes. Reuters tacitly predicts a win for the League of Women Voters challenging the map, and HuffPost agrees. PennLive notes that it doesn’t matter whether the onlooker likes the congressional map or not; the suit turns on whether the constitution is implicated. As far away as Bryan, Texas (home of “The...

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Round-up – 12-21-17

Posted by on Dec 21, 2017 in Round-ups | 0 comments

Two Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases get early coverage, while the other December releases remain quiet. The Allentown Morning Call interviews the ACLU about Com v. $34,440 and the ongoing consideration of civil forfeiture law in Pennsylvania, an issue that’s sure to come back to the Court and maybe even the legislature in the near future. Thomson Reuters covers SCF Consulting LLC v. Barrack Rodos, discussing the briefs and the difficult public policy determinations at play in the ongoing case. The Legal Intelligencer discusses the...

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Com v. $34,440: Proximity to Drugs presumption may be rebutted in forfeiture proceeding

Posted by on Dec 21, 2017 in Civil Forfeiture, Criminal | 0 comments

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania continues its consideration of the powers of civil forfeiture in a 5-2 decision that the “proximity to drugs” presumption in civil forfeiture proceedings may be rebutted by evidence that the seized property was not involved in any illegal activity. Juan Lugo was pulled over for tailgating in a “borrowed” car with several friends in Monroe County (home of “The Tricky Triangle”). The officer who pulled Lugo over then smelled marijuana, obtained consent to search the car, and discovered ecstasy in the cigarette...

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SCF Consulting, LLC v. Barrack, Rodos and Bacine: A contract action against a law firm alleging an unethical fee-sharing agreement should be allowed to proceed

Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 in Attorney Discipline, Civil, Contract | 0 comments

A divided Supreme Court of Pennsylvania agreed that a lawsuit against a law firm based on a breach of a contract should be allowed to move forward, even though the alleged contract would have been in violation of the fee-sharing rules of professional conduct. The Court was divided on the reason, and remanded for further proceedings “without present guidance from this Court.” SCF Consulting filed a civil complaint against Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, a law firm on Market Street in Philadelphia (where Benjamin Franklin performed many of his...

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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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