For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 52

The Supreme Court found that ยง9726(c) of the
Sentencing Code "...requires record evidence
of a defendant's ability to pay a fine even in
the negotiated guilty plea context." The Court
stated that, "[b]ecause no such evidence exists in
the record before us, the trial court imposed an
illegal sentence..." Although the Superior Court
vacated only the illegal fines and remanded for
resentencing, the Supreme Court concluded that
the judgment of sentence should be vacated in
its entirety. According to the Court, "[b]ecause
selectively vacating specific conditions of a
plea agreement threatens to upset the parties'
underlying bargain, the better remedy is to put
both sides right back where they started, at
which point they can begin plea negotiations
anew or proceed to trial." The majority opinion
was authored by Justice Wecht and was joined
by Chief Justice Saylor and Justices Baer, Todd,
Donohue and Dougherty.
Justice Mundy filed a dissenting opinion.
According to Justice Mundy, "...a defendant's
express agreement to pay a specific fine as
part of a negotiated plea bargain satisfies
the requirements of Section 9726(c)" of the
Sentencing Code.

New Cases in which PACDL
Submitted an Amicus Since April
2019
United States Supreme Court
Mathena v. Malvo, filed August 27, 2019; joint
Amicus with several other organizations.
Authors: Marsha L. Levick and Riya Saha Shah,
of the Juvenile Law Center; Heather Renwick
and Rebecca Turner, of the Campaign for Fair
Sentencing of Youth.
Issue: Involves the imposition of a life
without parole sentence on a juvenile without
consideration of youth and its attendant
characteristics.
Leyva v. United States, filed October 2019;
joint Amicus with several other organizations in
support of a Petition for Writ of Certiorari.
Author: John D. Cline, of the Law Office of
John D. Cline.

52

For The Defense

l

Vol. 4, Issue 4

Issue: Whether the Court should resolve the
conflict in the circuits over the appropriate
standard of review for sentencing enhancements
based on the unsworn, out-of-court statements
of cooperating witnesses by requiring de novo
review?
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Commonwealth v. Hamlett, filed May 24,
2019.
Authors: Patrick A. Casey and Donna A. Walsh,
of Myers, Brier & Kelly, LLP.
Issue:	Whether a criminal conviction can be
affirmed by an appellate court sua sponte based
on harmless error where the issue of harmless
error was never raised by the Commonwealth,
the Commonwealth made no effort to meet
its burden of demonstrating harmlessness and
defense counsel had no opportunity to address
the harmless error issue.
Commonwealth v. Johnson, filed July 25,
2019; joint Amicus with the ACLU.
Authors: David Rudovsky, of Kairys, Rudovsky,
Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP; Michael Witsch,
of Armstrong Teasdale LLP; Leonard Sosnov, of
Defender Association of Philadelphia; Andrew
Christy, of the ACLU.
Issue: Involves the scope of necessary
limitations to ensure that law enforcement's
digital searches of cell phones, computers and
other electronic devices adhere to Constitutional
protections against general and overbroad
searches. The appeal presents the Court with
the opportunity to establish the principles
and standards for digital searches, considering
individuals' privacy interests.
Commonwealth v. Jones, filed August 2019;
joint Amicus with the Defender Association of
Philadelphia.
Authors: Karl Baker and Keir Bradford-Grey, of
the Defender Association of Philadelphia.
Issue: Whether the Legislature's enactment of
42 Pa.C.S. Section 5920 (expert testimony in sex
cases) overruled the Supreme Court's decision in
Commonwealth v. Dunkle; involves the scope of
the Legislature's authority to overrule a decision
of the Supreme Court.



For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4

Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 1
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 2
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 4
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For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 6
For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 4 - 7
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