A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

The House and Senate are on Easter break. Both houses return to session on April 26 and 27.

Pennsylvania House approves expansion of Castle Doctrine related to lethal force in self-defense
Published: Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 3:29 PM Updated: Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 5:38 PM
By KARI ANDREN, The Patriot-News
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/04/pennsylvania_house_approves_ex.html

State House lawmakers approved a measure [last week] that would expand a citizen’s right to use lethal force in cases of self-defense.

The state House voted 164-37 to advance the proposal by state Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, that permits the use of deadly force without first having to retreat anywhere a citizen has a legal right to be if he feels his life or safety is in danger. {H.B. 40}

Current law allows for that right inside a person’s home. Perry’s bill expands that to include vehicles, workplaces and other public areas.

Critics argued that the bill could be used by criminals as a defense and that it would invite more violence than already exists, particularly in cities.

The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. A similar measure by state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin County, was approved by the Senate last month. [S.B. 273]

The Legislature approved an expansion of the state’s castle doctrine last year, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Ed Rendell.

Senate Judiciary Committee approves juvenile justice bills
From Crisci Associates “PA Capitol Digest”

The Senate Judiciary Committee [last week] approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) to reform the juvenile justice system and protect the fundamental rights of kids entering the system.

Sen. Baker’s bills will: eliminate waiving counsel in juvenile delinquency hearings; create a victim advocate devoted to juvenile justice; require judges to state on the record the reasons behind disposition orders; prohibit shackling of juveniles in the courtroom.
The bills include:
Senate Bill 815 (Baker-R-Luzerne) further providing for the right of counsel by juveniles;
Senate Bill 816 (Baker-R-Luzerne) further providing for the Office of Victim Advocate related to victims of juvenile crime;
Senate Bill 817 (Baker-R-Luzerne) providing for the use of restraints for juvenile offenders (was amended);
Senate Bill 818 (Baker-R-Luzerne) further providing for the reasons for the disposition of juvenile cases;
Senate Bill 850 (Greenleaf-R-Montgomery) providing for penalties for cyberbullying and sexting by minors, providing for expungement of juvenile records (was amended).

The Senate Judiciary Committee also approved House Bill 38 (Caltagirone-D-Berks) further providing for Philadelphia Court fees.

Read more

House bills move towards votes

Jury Duty Exemption: House Bill 804 (Masser-R-Columbia) providing an exemption from jury duty for individuals previously serving on a grand jury was reported from the House Judiciary Committee and is now on the House Calendar for action.

Street Gangs: House Bill 1121 (Reichley-R-Berks) further providing for sentencing for offenses committed in association with a criminal street gang was amended and reported from the House Judiciary Committee and Tabled.

Release Of Telephone Information: House Bill 1174 (Hackett-R-Delaware) further prohibiting the release of emergency information related to telephone service was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee and referred to the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Sale Of Firearms: House Bill 898 (Toepel-R-Montgomery) further providing for the sale and transfer of firearms was removed from the Table and is now on the House Calendar for action.

Free legal research available on State and Federal court appointed cases from the Student Research Center. http://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/CJResearch?appNum=4

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