The State College Police Department was notified in January of 2015 that members of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State had posted photos of drunk girls in compromising positions on a private Facebook page. A former member of the fraternity brought the matter to the attention of police, most likely to obtain favorable consideration from the Centre County District Attorney's Office in the former student's pending criminal case for charges of Resisting Arrest and Escape.
A Pittsburgh area man recently learned the hard way that some judges expect Pennsylvania citizens to take their civic duty to serve on a jury very seriously. The man had reported to the local county courthouse to be considered as a possible juror on a homicide trial. According to a Pittsburgh Tribune article, the man asked the assistant district attorney handling the prosecution of the case how long he must remain at court. Upon being told that his subpoena was effective until 4:30 in the afternoon, the man responded that this was "a waste of his time." The man owned a local pizza business, and I suspect that he, like most other business owners, spends long hours at the office. Missing a day of work is not a small thing. Instead of sucking it up and performing his civic duty, the man tried to have himself removed from the jury pool by answering questions in a manner to have himself struck. The straw that broke the camel's back was probably when the man happened to be standing close to the defendant, and the potential juror asked the defendant "did you do it."
In a very important decision for lawyers across the state of Pennsylvania, but especially important for defense lawyers in State College that handle drug distribution and possession with intent to deliver cases, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is holding that the drug-free school zone law is unconstitutional and cannot be used by prosecutors or imposed by judges. The decision in Commonwealth v. Hopkins affirmed a decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court that had previously held that the law violated constitutional requirements. Most county courts that addressed the issue reached the conclusion that the law was unconstitutional, but the Honorable Judge Bradley Lunsford in Centre County issued one of the few holdings that permitted prosecutors to use mandatory minimum sentences. After Lunsford issued his ruling, the remaining Centre County judges adopted his opinion and thereby continued to impose mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases. The good news is that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the constitution and struck down the awful law. The holding in this decision is likely to be applied to other drug-related mandatory minimum sentences like the drug trafficking law.
According to a Philadelphia newspaper, a New Jersey man undertook a cost-benefit analysis and felt that it was better to borrow a friend's car and drive to a court hearing for drug charges instead of missing the court appearance and having a warrant issued. In most criminal cases, a person that has pending misdemeanor or felony charges is subject to conditions of bail, which often require a person to stay out of trouble, keep the court updated with a correct mailing address, and to appear in court when required. When a person fails to appear in court, the prosecutor often asks that a warrant be issued and that any monetary bail that was posted be forfeited to the government.