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

By Burt Rose
Click for Opinion

Com. v. Hernandez, 2012 WL 549827, 2012 PA Super 40, was an appeal from a Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, CP–51–CR–008192–2009 and MC–51–CR–0022197–2008. The case was before Judges SHOGAN, LAZARUS and PLATT. Judge Platt wrote the Opinion and Judge Shogan dissented.

The Appellant raised one question for review: Did the trial court err when it found that the Commonwealth had established a corpus when none existed and subsequently when the court admitted Appellant’s out of court statement where the Commonwealth could not establish a corpus at any level? Judge Platt ruled that Appellant’s claim was waived for failure to specify the error alleged. The assertion of error made in the Rule 1925(b) statement was as follows: “The trial court erred in ruling that the Commonwealth had proved corpus delicti beyond a reasonable doubt.” The Court cited Commonwealth v. Hansley, 24 A.3d 410, 415 (Pa.Super. 2011), appeal denied, 2011 Pa. Lexis 2699 (Pa. filed Nov. 9, 2011) for the principle that a concise statement which is “too vague” to allow the court to identify the issues raised on appeal is the functional equivalent of no concise statement at all as the court’s review and legal analysis can be fatally impaired “when the court has to guess at the issues raised”.

Therefore, the Appellant’s claim was deemed waived (although the court did decide that the claim also failed on its merits).

Note: I for one hope that the Supreme Court will allow an appeal in this case as this waiver analysis, as Judge Shogan recognized in dissent, is far too rigid.

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