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

200px-Seal_of_the_Superior_Court_of_Pennsylvania.svgBy  Burt Rose

A panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has issued a decision in the case of COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Jermal BIZZEL, Appellant, 2014 WL 6756277, 2014 PA Super 267, No. 2556 EDA 2013 (Dec. 2, 2014). This was an appeal from a Judgment of Sentence of Judge Foglietta of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, CP–51–CR–0011725–2012.The Judges were FORD ELLIOTT, BOWES, and SHOGAN. Judge Shogan wrote the Opinion with no dissent.

The Appellant, Jermal Bizzel, argued that the unconstitutional (sur Alleyne) provisions of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6317 (Drug-free school zones) cannot be severed from the remainder of the statute, and therefore, the entire statute should be declared void and unenforceable. The Court agreed that they cannot be severed, and went on to hold that 18 Pa.C.S. § 6317 is unconstitutional. The Court thus vacated the judgment of sentence and remanded for resentencing.

Comment from Isla A. Fruchter:

Judge Bowes wrote a concurrence which would have been a dissent had she not be bound by Newman.  It is a blueprint for a severability decision on Hopkins in the Supreme Court.

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