By Burt Rose
Com. v. Daniel Dougherty, 2011 WL 1601798, No. 585 CAP (4/28/11), was an appeal from a PCRA Order in a capital case entered on 04/02/2009 in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division of Philadelphia County at No. CP–51–CR–0705371–1999. In a Per Curiam order, the Court ruled that the PCRA court, Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, had erred by denying a request for her recusal and remanded the matter to the PCRA court for appointment of a new PCRA judge.
Mr. Justice Baer’s concurring statement, joined by Justices Saylor, McCAFFERY and ORIE MELVIN, states: “The comments by the judge that Appellant was a “vile” human notwithstanding, to direct privately a court reporter to alter an official transcript, the only vehicle through which appellate courts can ensure the due process of law, is reprehensible and should be condemned universally. The PCRA judge’s explanation was that words which were “less than judicial” were removed, see N.T., Mar. 7, 2008 at 6, somehow asserting a “ de minimis excuse” to rationalize transcript alteration. To me, there can be no justification or excuse. Moreover, to attack counsel personally for requesting recusal, when the law requires such motions to be put forth before the judge whose actions are in question in the first instance, is obviously inappropriate.“
Robert Brett Dunham, Esq of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Shannon Druri-Lanessa Farmer, Esq. and David Scott Fryman, Esq. of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, L.L.P. represented the Appellant.