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2022

Article 1, Section 1:

Diop v. Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, 2022 WL 619575 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2022) (Mar. 3, 2022), per Leavitt, J., the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that a law requiring a license to engage in commercial natural hair braiding did not violate Article I, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Although Petitioners demonstrated why the licensing requirement was unreasonable when applied to experienced hairdressers, Petitioners failed to establish why the licensing requirement was unreasonable when applied to individuals with little to no experience. The court held that the requirement was not facially unconstitutional. The court also found that allowing licensed cosmetologists to engage in natural hair braiding without any training does not violate the equal protection clause in Article I, Section 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, both facially and as applied to them. The court reasoned that licensed cosmetologists were required to go through extensive training at an accredited school, and were therefore not similarly situated.

Article 1, Section 7:

Oberholzer v. Galapo, 2022 WL 678839 (Pa. Super. 2022) (Mar. 7, 2022), per Nichols, J., the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that an injunction requiring an individual to re-position yard signs should be subject to the heightened level of scrutiny under Madsen. The trial court originally applied the time, place, and manner analysis. However, because an injunction could further the significant government interest in one’s right to residential privacy, the trial court should have tailored its injunction to ensure it “burdened no more speech than necessary to serve Pennsylvania’s right to residential privacy.”

Article 1, Section 9:

Commonwealth v. Washington, 2022 WL 288221(Pa. Super. 2022) (Feb. 1, 2022), per King, J., The Pennsylvania Superior Court found that an attorney’s unreasonable advice that a client not testify on their own behalf was sufficient to raise an ineffective counsel defense. The attorney advised her client not to testify because she did not want the client to be impeached with evidence of his past aggravated assault convictions. However, the aggravated assault was inadmissible and counsel had no other reasonable basis to instruct her client to waive his right to testify. Article I, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees the accused the right to testify on his behalf and the commonwealth bears the burden of proving a waiver of that right. Further, a criminal defendant must understand his decision not to testify. Because the defendant waived his right due to ineffective advice of counsel, the court vacated the sentence and remanded the case for a new trial. 

Article 1, Section 13:

Commonwealth v. Felder, 2022 WL 529338 (Pa. 2022) (Feb. 23, 2022), per Dougherty, J., the Pennsylvania Supreme Court withdrew sentencing requirements for a juvenile subject to life in prison without parole in light of Jones v. Mississippi. The court held that the sentencing procedures adopted by Pennsylvania courts in Batts II no longer “carry the protections of the Eighth Amendment.” Batts II required a presumption against sentencing a juvenile homicide offender to life without parole and imposed upon the Commonwealth the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the juvenile is permanently incorrigible. These procedures were consistent with interpreting Article I, Section 13 of the Pennsylvania Constitution as coterminous with the Eighth Amendment. However, the Supreme Court in Jones recently held that a life-without-parole sentence for a juvenile murderer is constitutional so long as the sentencer has discretion. In a dissenting statement, Justice Wecht argued that the question presented by Felder is moot and the case should be dismissed as “improvidently granted.”

Methodological Provisions:

Henry v. York County, 2022 WL 696469 (M.D. Pa. 2022) (Mar. 8, 2022), per Robert D. Mariani, J., the court held that there is no private cause of action for damages under the Pennsylvania Constitution and dismissed the claim of an inmate who sought damages for negligent medical treatment while incarcerated.

McLinko v. Department of State, 2022 WL 257659 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2022) (Jan. 28, 2022), per Leavitt, J., the Commonwealth Court struck down Act 77 that would allow no-excuse mail-in voting, reasoning that the act violates three sections of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Currently, the Pennsylvania Constitution requires in-person voting, and that requirement can only be waived where the elector’s absence is for reasons of occupation, physical incapacity, religious observance, or Election Day duties. The court noted that there must be a constitutional amendment to remove the requirement of in-person voting.