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January 2022 Docket Review

Posted by Corrie Woods | Feb 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

This month, the Court issued 0 published opinions and 5 allocatur grants.  

On the opinion side, well, crickets.  But on the allocatur side, the Court in Rosario and Verbeck is taking up review to consider two criminal-defendant friendly Superior Court precedents: in Rosario, the Superior Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Simmons, 56 A.3d 1280 (Pa. Super. 2012) (en banc) (holding that a trial court lacks authority to revoke a term of probation that has not yet begun); and in Verbeck, the Superior Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Chichkin, 232 A.3d 959 (Pa. Super. 2020) (holding a defendant's acceptance of an accelerated rehabilitative disposition of DUI charges does not constitute a conviction for purposes of DUI-recidivist sentencing provisions).  Given that the Court is itself perceived as defendant friendly (this author argues it is merely non-defendant-hostile, as compared with earlier courts), it might seem strange that it would take up review since not doing so would leave the law as it is.  Assuming that the Court ultimately agrees with Simmons and Chichkin (which may actually be incorrect), there are nevertheless good reasons to grant review.  First, the Court may simply wish to establish the holdings as final and authoritative Supreme Court precedents.  Second, the Court may find the lower courts' analysis lacking in some respect.  Although perhaps not in Simmons and Chichkin, the intermediate appellate courts, tasked with massive dockets, does not always conduct a complete statutory interpretation analysis, or address all potential arguments on such wide-sweeping issues of public importance.  Here, both Simmons and Chichkin create somewhat anomalous practical applications: pursuant to Simmons, a defendant who violates parole a short time before it expires and a term of probation begins faces significantly less sanctions than one who makes it a few days more in the term of probation itself; pursuant to Chichkin, a first-time DUI offender accepting accelerated rehabilitative disposition avoids not only his first-time DUI's sanctions, but also arguably obtains a bonus with respect to any subsequent DUIs.  It will be interesting to see how the parties' arguments and the court's analysis shift now that the stakes are clear and final.

Allocatur Grants

Commonwealth v. Rosario, 298 WAL 2021 (granting review to consider whether Simmonssupra, was incorrectly decided and/or violated principles of stare decisis)

Commonwealth v. Perrin, 394 EAL 2021 (granting review to consider the permissibility of stipulations to witness credibility)

Alpini v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (Tinicum Twp.) (granting review to consider whether an employer that paid Heart and Lung Benefits is entitled to subrogation with regard to the employee's negligence and Dram Shop claims against a third party)

Commonwealth v. Verbeck, 406 MAL 2021 (granting review to consider whether Chichkin was incorrectly decided)

In the Interest of K.N.L., 492 EAL 2021 (granting review to consider the appropriate scope of third-party in loco parentis standing in dependency/adoption actions)

About the Author

Corrie Woods

Corrie is our primary litigator, and focuses his practice on appellate, criminal, and post-conviction cases. Corrie also authors the firm's blog, SCOPABlog, which is the only regularly updated blog providing comprehensive coverage of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's docket. Corrie became an a...


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