Defendant Granted New Trial Due to Biased Judge

Filed under: Criminal Law, News by Contributor @ July 17, 2014

In Commonwealth v. Shwarz , 1847 EDA 2012 (July 15, 2014), the Pennsylvania Superior Court granted a new trial to an appellant who argued the trial court judge exhibited bias against him. The appellant, a Philadelphia police officer, faced charges of official oppression and related offenses, and was convicted by a jury. On appeal, the appellant argued that the trial judge showed bias against him because he questioned the defense witnesses in a manner which showed that he did not believe the defense’s version of events was credible. Additionally, the appellant testified on his own behalf, and the judge questioned him in a way that clearly showed bias against his version of events – and was akin to the cross-examination that one might expect from a prosecutor. The Superior Court found that this showed enough bias to justify the grant of a new trial to the police officer defendant.

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