Monday, December 12, 2016

Post conviction relief has its limits in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, once a defendant is no longer under the jurisdiction of the state, either in jail or on probation the opportunity to seek vindication is lost. Emma Turner’s conviction was overturned in Philadelphia.  Before she could get a new trial her probation sentence ended.
According to Newsworks, prosecutors kept asking for more time to respond until her probation was over, then they appealed. The matter made its way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled in 2013 in a precedent-setting case that since Turner was no longer on probation, she doesn't have a case anymore. Under the PCRA law, a person filing must be incarcerated, or on probation. However, Turner's case took it a step further when the high court declared it not a violation of constitutional rights when an appeal becomes moot, even if the petition was originally filed while in state custody. 
Or, as rendered by the court, Turner "has no protected liberty interest in collateral review at this juncture because she is no longer subject to a state sentence."
To Turner's attorney, who argued that her due process rights should not be violated by dint of a short sentence, the court cited a state precedent that said striking a reasonable balance between "society's need for finality in criminal cases and the convicted person's need to demonstrate there has been an error" can place limits on someone's ability to appeal.
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