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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pennsylvania General Assembly is considering legislation that would grant amnesty to underage drinkers who contact the police or emergency medical services in an effort “to help a friend or acquaintance with a life-threatening, alcohol-related illness.”  While the law would protect underage drinkers who call for help, it also requires that the persons give their name and information to the responders, that they “they believe they are the first to alert emergency authorities,” and that they stay with the person needing help until the emergency responders arrive.

For more information, go to: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11144/1148734-454.stm?cmpid=news.xml#ixzz1NGTyoUY5

(h/t @PittNews)

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas will start a new court program for defendants charged with sex crimes.  The program’s goal is to increase accountability among sex offenders and to reduce recidivism rates.  The new program will also result in sex offense cases being moved through the judicial system faster.

 

For more information, go to:

 

http://postgazette.com/pg/11124/1144009-100.stm

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that US District Judge Gustave Diamond has denied a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence and dismiss charges in a case where the evidence was destroyed before trial.  In this case, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office permitted drug evidence and a coin purse allegedly seized from the defendant to be incinerated. Before granting the request to incinerate the evidence, the District Attorney’s Office was not aware that the United States Attorney General’s Office was prosecuting the case.  The defense argued that it was substantially impaired by the destruction of evidence and requested that the court dismiss the charges and suppress the destroyed evidence.  After considering the motions, Judge Diamond concluded that the evidence was not destroyed in bad faith and that the prosecution was not put on notice that the defendant found the coin purse to be exculpatory evidence.

 

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11109/1140430-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a federal judge may permit a drug case to proceed after the Allegheny County Office of the District Attorney destroyed evidence.  The case, which is being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Gustave Diamond, involves a defendant who has been accused of possession with intent to deliver heroin.  After the Allegheny County DA’s office transferred prosecution to the United States Attorney General’s office, the drug evidence and the zippered purse in which the drugs were allegedly found were incinerated.  The defendant argues that the absence of the zippered purse will hamper her ability to challenge the legality of the police officers’ search.

For more information, go to:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11096/1137378-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

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The Associated Press reports that South Carolina is considering legislation that would limit prison inmates’ access to Facebook.  The law, if enacted, would prohibit inmates from accessing Facebook from inside the prison facility and from having friends or relatives create a Facebook page for them.  The news article notes that, “Facebook already prohibits third-party profiles and takes them down when they find out. The company also deactivates prisoner pages when they become aware of them, regardless of who set up the pages.”

 

For more information, go to:

Yahoo! News: South Carolina bill targets prisoners on Facebook

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The Associated Press reports that two states are considering legislation that would regulate and/or bring awareness to the perils of distracted walking.  New York and Arkansas lawmakers believe that walkers who use both earphones and walk while using cell phones and/or texting are a danger to themselves and others.  Some lawmakers indicate that their laws are “aimed more at increasing awareness than punishing pedestrians.”

For more information, go to:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110124/ap_on_re_us/us_distracted_walkers

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The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts is reviewing an incident where an Allegheny County court employee reassigned a case after a relative, who happened to be a public official at the time, requested that the case be moved.

George Matta, then the Clerk of Courts of Allegheny County, sent an email requesting that the criminal court administrator move a case where his relative was the victim of a rape from the court of the Honorable Kevin Sasinoski to the court of the Honorable Donna Jo McDaniel.

For more information, go to:

“State to review county rape case’s transfer to tougher judge” http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_690441.html

“Official got judge switched for man who raped relative”  http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10192/1072047-455.stm

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Commonwealth v. Willard Oakley Moser 2010 PA Super 119 (7/08/2010)

Topic: Evidence of Prior Trials in Current Cases

Summary: Under Pa.R.E. 410(a)(2), evidence of a prior nolo contendere plea is inadmissible in any future criminal proceedings.

http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Superior/out/S33002_10.pdf

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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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