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In a follow-up to the post about Bishop Samuel Mullet, a federal court sentenced the Amish man to 15 years in prison on Friday.  The US Attorney’s Office requested that Mr. Mullet serve life in prison.

For more information, go to:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/02/08/171503838/amish-beard-cutting-ring-leader-sentenced-to-15-years-in-prison

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US attorneys are recommending a sentence of life in prison for Samuel Mullet.  Mullet is an Amish bishop convicted of conspiracy and federal hate crimes after a string of attacks in which Amish individuals had their hair and beards cut with shears against their will.  Mullet’s attorney, Edward Bryan is advocating for a sentence that calls for two years of incarceration.  In his sentencing memorandum, Attorney Bryan noted that “[n]on-drug federal life sentences are thus typically reserved for the most heinous of crimes involving murder.”  The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Friday, February 8th.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/prosecutors-seek-life-sentence-in-amish-beard-cutting-case-673488/

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/02/sam_mullet_lawyer_asks_for_len.html

http://www.thedaily.com/article/2012/12/03/120312-news-amish-bishop-exclusive

http://www.wkyc.com/assetpool/documents/130205120650_Sentencing%20Recommendation.pdf

http://www.thestate.com/2013/02/01/2614897_leader-of-amish-group-in-ohio.html

http://www.wkyc.com/news/article/281942/3/Fellow-Amish-want-life-in-prison-for-Sam-Mullet

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Starting tomorrow, the rules for who must register as a Megan’s Law sex offender in Pennsylvania will change.  Under the new law, sex offenders are classified by three tiers.  Tier I offenders will have to register for 15 years.  Tier II offenders will have to register for 25 years.  Tier III offenders will have to register for life.  If you are currently serving a period of incarceration for a sexual offense, are currently on parole or probation for a sexual offense, or are currently a Megan’s Law registrant, the new law will affect you.

 Please note that, if you are currently incarcerated or on parole or probation for a sexual offense, you will be forced to register under the new law even if your offense was not a Megan’s Law offense before. 

 If the terms of your registration have changed because of the modification to Megan’s Law or if you were previously not required to register but now have to register because of the change in the law, contact the Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) practice of Bickerton & Bickerton at 412-398-5507 or 412-596-8124 for a consultation.

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Commonwealth v. Michael Willis  9 EAP 2009 (05/30/2012)

Topic: Constitutional Rights – Right to a Fair Trial – Brady Violation

Summary: The prosecution is required to turn over any evidence that is material under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); regardless of whether or not that evidence is admissible in court.


http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/J-86-2009oajc.pdf

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Commonwealth v. David Bradford  2 WAP 2011 (05/30/2012)

Topic: Constitutional Rights – Right to a Speedy Trial – Rule 600

Summary: The prosecution is permitted to rely upon the judicial system in its system for case tracking.  Therefore, if the judicial system errs in its case management and the prosecutor relies on the judicial system for its information, the prosecutor will not be faulted for speedy trial purposes.

Facts:  The Allegheny County Office of the District Attorney devised a case tracking method where its system at the Common Pleas level was not triggered until a case number was issued by the Court of Common Pleas.   However, at the time of the Bradford case, the Court of Common Pleas did not issue a case number until the case information was transmitted from the Magisterial District Court.  For reasons that remain unclear, the case information was not transmitted from the District Court to the Court of Common Pleas.  Therefore, the District Attorney’s Office’s case system was never initiated.  Defense counsel filed a motion to dismiss alleging that Bradford’s speedy trial rights were violated.  The trial court granted the motion.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting the motion.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court disagreed and overruled the trial court.

 

http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/J-89-2011mo.pdf

 

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The Pennsylvania General Assembly has passed a law prohibiting drivers from sending text messages or otherwise composing written messages (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) while driving.  The prohibition does not include devices used “exclusively” for the purpose of navigation or the act of dialing a phone number while driving.   Drivers caught texting while driving will face a $50 fine.

While earlier drafts of the law made the violation a secondary offense, the law as passed makes texting while driving a primary offense.  In other words, police officers can pull drivers over “just” for texting while driving.  No other motor vehicle code violation is required to justify the stop.  The law now goes to Governor Tom Corbett for final approval.  If approved, the law will take effect in 120 days.

 

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11306/1186784-454.stm

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2011&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0314&pn=1724

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The new expansion to the Pennsylvania castle doctrine will take effect on Saturday, August 27th, 2011.  (h/t NRA-ILA)

For more information, go to:

UPDATE: In the News: Pa governor signs bill expanding Castle Doctrine

In the News: PA Castle Doctrine Bill passes state senate

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On July 7th, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett signed a law into effect that would immunize underage drinkers from criminal charges if they are seeking medical attention for another person.  The purpose of this law is to encourage underage drinkers to call for help if they see another person who is “in need of immediate medical attention to prevent death or serious injury.”

To qualify for amnesty under the new law, a person must show that the only reason why law enforcement became aware of the underage drinking (or possession of alcohol) was because 1.) the underaged person called for help in a situation where they reasonably believed that another person was in need of serious medical attention, 2.) the underaged person reasonably believed that he was the first to call for help, 3.) the underaged person gave his name to the emergency responder when he called for help, 4.) the underaged person stayed with the person suffering a medical emergency until help arrived and his presence is no longer necessary.

For more information, go to:

In the News: Pa considers underage drinking amnesty law

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2011&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0448&pn=1458

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Governor Tom Corbett has signed a Pennsylvania bill expanding the castle doctrine.  Under the previous law, if a person faced the threat of death or serious bodily injury outside of their home or place of work was able to retreat with complete safety, self-defense with deadly force was not permitted.  With the new law, it is now permissible to meet a threat of death or serious bodily injury with deadly force regardless of the location as long as the person is legally permitted to be at the location.  The new bill also provides protection from civil liability for those who use deadly force legally.

For more information, go to:

http://bickerton-law.com/2011/06/20/in-the-news-pa-castle-doctrine-bill-passes-state-senate/

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11179/1156785-100.stm

http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/NewsReleases.aspx?ID=15275

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A Pennsylvania bill modfiying the duty to retreat in the face of a threat of death or serious bodily injury has passed the Pennsylvania General Assembly and is awaiting approval by Governor Tom Corbett.

Under existing law, a person has a duty to retreat from a threat of death or serious bodily injury if 1.) he can retreat with complete safety and 2.) he is not in his home or place of business.  With the new law, a person who is in a place where she or he has the right to be may legally meet a threat of death or serious bodily injury with deadly force without being required to escape.  The statute would also create immunity from a civil suit in cases where a person properly used force in self defense.

For more information, go to:

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2011&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=0040&pn=1038

http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Read.aspx?ID=6937

 

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