Topic: Law of the Case Doctrine & Sentencing Guidelines
Summary: 1.) Where a higher court has ruled on an issue, a lower court cannot contradict the higher court’s decision. 2.) A sentencing court must consider the Sentencing Guidelines when issuing sentence. Therefore, the calculation of the prior record score and other guideline information must be accurate.
Illustration: 1.) On direct appeal, the Superior Court concluded that the record was insufficient to make a ruling on the appellant’s claim. During the PCRA proceedings, the PCRA court determined that the Superior Court erred by finding the record insufficient. The Superior Court concluded that the lower court cannot find error in a higher Court’s ruling. 2.) The PCRA court concluded that the fact that the appellant’s prior record score was miscalculated was unimportant because it intended to sentence the appellant to the statutory maximum, regardless of what the Guidelines were. The Superior Court concluded that a sentencing court is required to consider the Sentencing Guidelines when issuing sentence, therefore, the Guidelines must be accurate.