Legislative Positions

PACDL relies on its members to advocate and eliminate inequities based on policy or public law; express opposition or support for a policy, rule, program or proposed legislation; or recommend changes to a state or federal policy, program or public law that would enhance the practice of criminal defense.

Find our most compelling 2018-2020 legislative submissions below.

Evidence: On May 29, PACDL submitted comments to proposed changes to Pa. R. Evid. 401 Comment.  It indicated that as a general rule, it supports additional language that would make it clear that a person's class is irrelevant and can only result in injecting prejudice into trial assessment. Read the entire letter.   

Marsy's LawOpposition Memo to the Senate Judiciary Committee (March 26, 2019)

Probation and Parole Reform:  Testimony before the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee (August 10, 2018).  In 2019, PACDL testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on probation and parole reform. Its written testimony can be found here.  
Grand Jury Reform:  Testimony Before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Investigating Grand Jury Task Force (December 4, 2017). PACDL also filed comments regarding the proposed criminal procedural rule 231 (grand jury secrecy) on May 10.  PACDL noted that the proposed language falls short because it fails to resolve ambiguous language that suggests it is appropriate to swear witnesses to secrecy. To read PACDL's comments, click here.  Thank you to Justin Danilewitz at Saul Ewing for preparing the comment letter.

Resentencing Proposal:  PACDL submitted testimony on June 12, 2019 on the Commission's resentencing guidelines.  Read the testimony here.

Sentencing Risk Assessment:  Testimony before the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission (June 13, 2018) regarding the proposed assessment instrument.  PACDL informed the commission that the instrument's objective of reducing an individual's personal history to a mathematical equation based on their luck at birth will create illogical results.  In 2019, PACDL continued to voice its concerns before the Sentencing Commission's Risk Assessment proposal.  Testimony is planned on being submitted at the Commissions's public hearings scheduled to receive commrnts in August.  

PACDL submitted written and presented oral testimony to the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission (Dec. 6, 2018) regarding the revised proposed risk assessment instrument.  Its testimony voiced concerns about the duplicative nature of the instrument, the violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and the financial impact.  PACDL called on the Commission to urge the General Assembly to rescind its mandate.

SORNA:  PACDL supports House Bill 1701 and submitted a position paper to House Judiciary Committee Chairpersons and Representative Thomas Murt, the bill's prime sponsor.