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PA Supreme Court Takes Up Marsy's Challenge

PACDL filed an Amicus Curiae in Support of Appellees arguing that without notice to the voters, the single ballot question seeks impermissibly to amend several provisions of the Declaration of Rights at once, the proposed amendments alter and repeal the presumption of innocence, and amend provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution which attempt to guard against wrongful convictions. PACDL's brief explained that the resulting harms include inevitable undermining of the rights that PACDL exists to protect for the accused, and immediate interference with the effective performance of the defense function that PACDL exists to support and facilitate for its members. It stated, "These harms will be compounded by uncertainty, confusion and needlessly increased costs to all actors and institutions that make up the criminal justice system." Moreover, the brief stated, "The Proposed Amendments effectively strip any person within this Commonwealth who is accused of a crime of the presumption of innocence, and amends -- without notice to the voters -- provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution which act as a shield against wrongful convictions."  Thanks to Lauren A. Wimmer (Philadelphia), Peter Goldberger (Ardmore) and Barbara Zemlock (Harrisburg) for expediting the writing and filing of the brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  In a 4-3 decision, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court upheld the preliminary injunction to not certify the ballot.