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September 16, 2010

Counsel can be Deemed Ineffective for Failing to Advise a Defendant of Collateral Consequences

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently considered whether a defendant’s counsel was ineffective for failing to inform him that a guilty plea to indecent assault would result of the loss of his vested pension rights under the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act (PEPFA). Defendant Joseph Abraham, a high school teacher, had offered $300 to a student in exchange for sex, and also touched her buttocks. Abraham gave the student a business card with his private cell phone number written on it. Several months later, the student disclosed the incident to school police. Abraham, 67 years...

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July 27, 2010

US Supreme Court Holds State Employer May Investigate Employees’ Electronically Stored Data When Search is Legitimately Work-Related

The United States Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case of Ontario v. Quan, wherein a police officer brought suit against his police department for invasion of privacy. The police department had issued texting/paging devices to its officers for the purpose of work-related use. All of the officers were allotted a predetermined amount of text messages and/or data transfer, which was to be paid by the employer. Anything transferred above that which was allowed would be the responsibility of the officer personally. After an audit of the cellular bills showed many officers were...

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July 12, 2010

United States Court of Appeals Hears Arguments in Two Students Cases, Suspended for “Bashing” School Officials on the Internet

A recent hearing held before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit involved constitutional issues of free-speech, as applied to two students suspended for creating fake MySpace pages claiming to be their school principals. One student, a high school senior from Pittsburgh, was suspended in 2005 when he created a fake MySpace page to parody his principal. On the profile page, the student accused his principal of using steroids, smoking marijuana and being a drunk. The student did not create the MySpace page while at school, or even on school grounds, rather creating the...

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May 27, 2010

Supreme Court of the United States Holds Failure to Inform Defendant of the Potential for Deportation Prior to Entering a Plea of Guilt Amounts to Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

In a recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court held that an attorney who fails to inform his client of the potential for deportation associated with a plea of guilty amounts to ineffective assistance of counsel. The case captioned Padilla v. Kentucky involved a defendant, Jose Padilla, who was a permanent resident of the United States for over forty years. In that time, Padilla had honorably served the United States as a member of the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Padilla was arrested and charged with

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April 6, 2010

Courts Begin Cracking-Down on E-Savvy Jurors

In today’s ever-evolving world of electronic communication, the consequences of constant information exchange are being seen in the courtroom. Mistrials, delays and the overturning of convictions are just some of the outcomes caused by jurors who cannot help themselves from “twittering” away on their cell phones, PDAs and computers; both inside and outside of the courtroom. The problem, which began several years ago but has recently exploded, has led the Judicial Conference of the United States, the organization which oversees administration of the Federal Court system, to issue...

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