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Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala issued a statement outlining the public’s right to videotape police officers. DA Zappala explained that a person has the right to videotape police officers who are on duty but people do not have the right to antagonize the officers or attempt to provoke an arrest. He also advised that police officers are not permitted to arrest individuals for videotaping police actions.  DA Zappala also advised individuals who are being arrested to submit to the arrest regardless of whether they believe the arrest is valid.

For more information, go to:

DA: Videotaping an exchange with officers is within a citizen’s rights

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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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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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U.S. District Court Judge John Grady has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Craiglist alleging that the company failed to adequately deter prostitutes from posting in its “Erotic Services” (now “Adult Services”) section. Judge Grady concluded that the services offered were for legal activities such as erotic dancing and did not explicitly promote prostitution. Judge Grady also noted that prohibiting the conduct may infringe upon First Amendment rights. The lawsuit was filed by the Cook County Sheriff.

For more information, go to:

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Commonwealth v. Omar J-162A-B-2008 (10/05/2009)
Topic: Trademark Counterfeiting – Constitutionality
Summary: 18 Pa.C.S.A. Section 4119, which prohibited the unauthorized use of a trademark, was struck down as being overbroad. The law prohibited any use of a trademark without considering whether the use was protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.

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Commonwealth v. Gregory Philip Kendall 2009 PA Super 100 (5/29/2009)

Topic: Reasonable Suspicion – Automobile Stop – Officer’s Duty to Aid

Summary: Where an officer approaches a vehicle to render aid, the incident is a mere encounter and reasonable suspicion is not necessary.

Illustration: While driving on a desolate road in the middle of the night, Defendant pulled over. Although the officer was following Defendant for a few minutes, no motor vehicle violations were observed. The police officer asserted that he pulled over to see if everything was ok. The police do not need reasonable suspicion when they are acting on their duty to render aid. Therefore, the Superior Court found that this was not an investigative detention/stop and reasonable suspicion was not needed.

http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Superior/out/S01024_09.pdf

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Commonwealth v. Syvol Bowen 2009 PA Super 94 (5/21/2009)

Topic: Sentencing – Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent

Summary: A sentencing court may not use a defendant’s silence as its sole reason for enhancing a sentence. Additionally, a sentencing court may not use a defendant’s silence at a sentencing hearing as a proof that the defendant does not take responsibility for the offense.

http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Superior/out/a04028_08.pdf

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Commonwealth v. Charles Joseph Lucarelli J-83-2008 (5/27/2009)

Topic: Right to Counsel – Waiver or Forfeiture of Right to Counsel

Summary: Where a defendant forfeits his right to counsel, Pa.R.Crim. P. 121 does not apply and a colloquy is not necessary.

Illustration: The defendant could afford counsel and repeatedly chose not to retain an attorney. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that in such a case, the defendant has forfeited his right to counsel and must proceed pro se. Further, the trial court does not have to conduct a counsel waiver colloquy with the defendant as the colloquy is only applicable in cases where the defendant waives his right to counsel.

http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/J-83-2008mo.pdf

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A federal judge has refused to prevent Washington D.C. police from setting up traffic checkpoints that bar “motorists who would not prove they lived in the area or who did not reveal their destination” from entering the neighborhood. The Partnership for Civil Justice filed suit alleging that the checkpoints are unconstitutional.

For more information, go to:

http://www.startribune.com/nation/33591914.html

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