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Supreme Court Ties Again, Leaves Superior Court Decision on Warrantless Videorecordings in the Home Intact

Filed under: Criminal Law, Drug Crimes by Contributor @ January 22, 2015

In Commonwealth v. Dunnavant, 2014 Pa. LEXIS 3457, a 3-3 tie (due to the resignation of former Justice McCaffery) resulted in the per curiam affirmance of the Superior Court’s opinion that a videotape recorded by a confidential informant wearing a covert digital camera during a staged drug-buy within the defendant’s home must be suppressed as […]

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3-3 Tie in PA Supreme Court Tightens Admissibility of Electronic Messages

Filed under: Criminal Law by Contributor @ January 14, 2015

In a split decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Koch, 2014 Pa. LEXIS 3491, affirmed the lower court’s decision that text messages discovered during a drug investigation were inadmissible hearsay. Believe it or not, in 2015, Pennsylvania (like many other states) still does not have a coherent legal rule for the authentication and […]

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New Superior Court 4th Amendment Case

Filed under: Criminal Law by Contributor @ January 7, 2015

Just before Christmas, a Superior Court panel consisting of Judges Wecht, Panella, and Ott released a new opinion, Commonwealth v. Perel, 2014 WL 7331025,  exploring the confines of the 4th Amendment and Pennsylvania’s counterpart in Article 1, § 9 of the Commonwealth’s Constitution.   Judge Wecht wrote the majority opinion in the 2-1 decision. Judge Ott dissented. […]

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PA Supreme Court: No Problem with HGN

Filed under: DUI by Contributor @ January 6, 2015

In a decision that is certain to have significant ramifications for the DUI defense bar, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently affirmed without elaboration the Superior Court’s decision in Commonwealth v. Weaver, 76 A.3d 562, on the question of whether horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) tests “are [in]admissible at a suppression hearing for lack of probable cause […]

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Alleyne Aftershocks Continue as Superior Court Strikes Down Sex Crimes Law

Filed under: Criminal Law by Contributor @ December 28, 2014

In Commonwealth v. Wolfe, 2014 PA Super. 288, the Pennsylvania Superior Court continued to deal with the consequences of Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), as it struck down the ten-year mandatory minimum pursuant  to section 9718(a)(1) for crimes against minors.  The statutory text of section 9718 is written in the same format as those […]

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