January 6, 2015 |
Two years ago, a 15-year-old Bucks County boy raped a younger child. He went through juvenile court, was detained, and was added to a state police registry of juvenile sex offenders. The teen joined about 300 juvenile sex offenders who have been registered under a 2011 law and were expected to stay on the list for at least 25 years. But last week, the state Supreme Court struck down that requirement, ruling that the law unfairly treated the teens like adults. Its 5-1 decision, which stemmed from juvenile cases in York County, stokes a growing nationwide debate over keeping track of children who have committed sex crimes.
January 5, 2015 |
On leaving the city's old Family Court building, The Inquirer recently reported, some judges saw fit to take the fixtures with them to their new chambers. This neatly illustrated the distance between judicial impropriety and criminal guilt. No one - including the city officials who promised the court's antique accoutrements to the building's buyer - is planning to make a federal case out of this. Nor should they. Still, many Philadelphians are no doubt dismayed that their designated arbiters of justice appeared to stoop to stripping a public facility for parts.
January 5, 2015 |
Two months after Eric Frein's arrest, a central question remains unclear: Did he confess? If so, to what? Frein, who eluded state police and federal agents for weeks in the Poconos, acknowledged to detectives on the night of his October arrest that he shot two state troopers, according to an affidavit filed in his case. But Frein's attorney said he still hasn't determined whether the statements were legally obtained and recorded, and if they amount to a confession. Some answers could come Monday, when Frein is due to return to the Pike County courthouse for the first time since his arrest.
January 5, 2015 |
In a ruling sure to fuel the illusions of some inveterate Pennsylvania gamblers, a sharply divided state appeals court has ruled that gambling machines can be games of skill, not chance. Well, at least the two poker machines played for a time at American Legion Knowles-Doyle Post 317 in Yardley, Bucks County. In a 2-1 decision filed Dec. 23, Superior Court ruled that on Oct. 15, 2010, state troopers wrongly seized the poker machines - a Jersey Hold 'Em and a Red, White & Blue. The troopers, backed by the District Attorney's office, seized the machines as evidence of illegal gambling.
December 31, 2014 |
In a potentially precedent-setting decision, a Pennsylvania appellate court has restricted the circumstances under which prosecutors can seize homes used by convicted drug dealers. The 5-2 majority opinion by Commonwealth Court applies to homeowners who can show they had little or no involvement in the illegal activity. The ruling in the case involving a 69-year-old West Philadelphia widow, and the settlement of two seizure cases in a federal lawsuit Dec. 20, constitute twin setbacks for the city's civil forfeiture program.
December 29, 2014 |
SALT LAKE CITY - It will be interesting to see how helpful NBA opponents will be in a few seasons when the 76ers are the team looking for favors. That's because the franchise is a salary-dump station for teams trying to shed money. And in most instances, the trading partners won't have to worry about facing a discarded player who is determined to show up his former squad. The Sixers could run an advertisement that reads: "Trade us your players. We'll keep them locked away until they no longer remember being traded.
December 28, 2014 |
Even as Gov. Christie has slammed the state Supreme Court as too "activist," his administration's inability to establish new affordable-housing rules has raised the prospect that the high court will intervene next year. New Jersey has failed for more than a decade to update its requirements to help municipalities satisfy their constitutional obligation to each provide a fair share of the region's affordable housing to low- and moderate-income residents. After repeated attempts by the Christie administration to fundamentally change that process, the court will hear oral arguments next month in a case brought by affordable-housing advocates, who want the justices to coordinate development of new rules.
December 27, 2014 |
Even as institutional buildings go, Philadelphia's new Family Court is a spartan place. No architectural flourishes relieve the dreary expanse of its milky glass facade. No murals celebrate benevolent justice or family virtues. No modern art adds color to its bland white walls. But for a brief moment, Family Court's cold, unadorned rooms were brought to life by decorative antique lamps, ornate torchères, and fine wooden chairs. According to the city's commissioner of public property, Bridget Collins-Greenwald, those valuable, custom-designed objects were stripped by Family Court judges and court employees from the historic Logan Square palazzo that served as the court's home for seven decades, and carted off to their new building overlooking LOVE Park, to be used to decorate the judges' chambers.
December 26, 2014 |
When Merchantville physician Abbas Husain did not place his left hand on the Bible while being sworn in to testify in a Camden courtroom, a juror took notice. The juror later mentioned her surprise at Husain's action to Superior Court Judge Stephen Holden - after the jury awarded $12,500 to a woman who claimed Husain had sexually harassed her. The juror made the comments during a meeting between Holden and the jury. Husain learned about the discussion after Holden mentioned it to the attorneys.