By Burt Rose
Click for Opinion
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has issued a decision in the case of COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Alexander Shwarz, Appellant, 1847 EDA 2012 (July 15, 2014). This was an appeal from a judgment of sentence before Judge Earl Trent in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The Appellant, a Philadelphia police officer, was convicted following a trial by jury of official oppression and related offenses. On direct appeal, he alleged that the trial judge had exhibited bias against the defense. The Panel was composed of Judges Ford Elliott, Wecht and Musmanno. Judge Ford Elliott wrote the Opinion for the three judge panel which granted Mr. Shwarz a new trial, notwithstanding the judge’s cautionary instructions to the jury, since the trial court’s manner of questioning the defense witnesses reflected its belief that the Appellant’s version of the events was not credible and was not neutral in content. This impropriety was most on display when the Appellant testified on his own behalf and Judge Trent in effect cross-examined the Appellant in a way that made clear that the court doubted his credibility.
The attorney for the Appellant was …….me!