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The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Pennsylvania State Senator Kim Ward has preposed a law that would make the failure to report a violent crime a criminal offense.  The bill is named “Jennifer’s Law” in honor of “a Westmoreland County woman who was tortured and murdered.”

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10172/1067209-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

http://senatorward.com/press/2010/0610/061810.htm

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The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has replaced the majority of the city’s Citizen Police Review Board.  The new appointments would replace five out of seven members of the board.  Ravenstahl’s announcement happened to coincide with a contempt of court proceeding the Citizen Review Board filed against Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper.  The Review Board has accused Chief Harper of intentionally withholding documents requested in conjunction with a G-20 investigation.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10169/1066592-100.stm

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Commonwealth v. Christopher Doty  2010 PA Super 105 (06/09/2010)

Topic: Fugitive Status – Waiver v. Forfeiture of Appellate Rights Challenging an Illegal Sentence

Summary: When a defendant becomes a fugitive from justice during the appellate period, he may forfeit his right to pursue an appellate review.  This forfeiture applies to issues that cannot be waived, like the legality of the sentence.

http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Superior/out/S09009_10.pdf

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Commonwealth v. Joseph Abraham  2010 PA Super 104 (6/08/2010)

Topic: Ineffective Assistance of CounselPCRA – Collateral Consequences

Summary: In view of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Padilla v. Kentucky, the fact that a consequence of a conviction is a collateral one will not protect an attorney from an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.  To be effective, an attorney must inform his client of any consequences when the “consequences in question are succinct, clear, and distinct….”  Also, an attorney will be found to be ineffective if she fails to give “good advice about a serious consequence.”

http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Superior/out/S21023_10.pdf

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Bickerton and Bickerton attorney Lea T. Bickerton has been named a Rising Star in the 2010 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers magazine.  According to SuperLawyers.com, “no more than 2.5 percent [of Pennsylvania attorneys] are named to the Rising Stars list.”

For more information, go to:

http://www.superlawyers.com/about/selection_process.html

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Although many assume that arson investigations are based on hard science, the May 7, 2010 episode of 20/20 pointed out numerous flaws with arson science.  The investigation revealed that many assumptions made by arson investigators are based on word of mouth rather than scientific analysis.  Examples included conclusions of points of origin, the use of accelerants, the effect of man-made fires on glass, and the typical behavior of fire.  The investigation brought to light several cases where the defendant was convicted based on faulty arson evidence.

For more information, go to:

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/arson-case-bad-science-leads-dealth-penalty-charges/story?id=10573263

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The Pittsburgh news channel WPXI reports that inmate visits at the Westmoreland County Jail have been suspended until further notice due to a faulty elevator.  The elevator in question seriously injured a county jail employee in March.

For more information, go to:

http://www.wpxi.com/news/23065221/detail.html

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In the News: ACLU opposes PA sexting law

Published on 04 February 2010 by in Blog

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the ACLU and the Juvenile Law Center are opposing a Pennsylvania bill that is intended to make sexting a lesser offense for minors.  The ACLU argues that by criminalizing sexting, juveniles are left with a permanent mark that would harm their ability to get a job, be admitted to certain colleges, and join the military.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10035/1033478-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

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BriefLaw: Commonwealth v. Rodriguez

Published on 31 January 2010 by in Blog

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Commonwealth v. Lenora Rodriguez 2010 PA Super 14 (1/29/2010)

Topic: Retail Theft – Intent Element of the Offense

Summary: To convict a defendant of Retail Theft, the Commonwealth must prove that she had intent to permanently deprive the store of the merchandise.

Illustration: Defendant was accused of taking a portable stereo from the electronics department of a Walmart store to the customer service desk of the same store.  At the customer service desk, Defendant asked to return the stereo.  The Superior Court concluded that, while Defendant’s actions may have shown her intent to deprive Walmart of cash, it did not show that she intended to deprive the store of the stereo.  Therefore, the evidence did not support a conviction for retail theft.

For more information, go to:

http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Superior/out/a35026_09.pdf

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The Pennsylvania General Assembly House of Representatives has passed a bill prohibiting drivers from operating a handheld cell phone or wireless device while operating a motor vehicle.  Before the bill becomes law, it must be passed by the Pennsylvania Senate and signed by Governor Ed Rendell.

For more information go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10026/1031203-100.stm

https://bickerton-law.com/2010/01/25/in-the-news-pa-house-consides-bill-banning-handheld-cellphone-while-driving/

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