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Judicial Reform States Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

At Risk
Total Judgeships: 

7 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 

3 Dems - 4 GOP

Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia


Recent Cases

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College Held Accountable for Breach in Contract

Mon, 06/16/2014

Meyer v. Community College of Beaver County: After the police training program that they were enrolled in was cancelled, a group of students filed suit against the college on the grounds of a breach of contract. The Court of Common Pleas of the County found issue because the contract law defines a breach being between two ‘persons.’ As a result, the case was brought on appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that ‘person’ under the contract law includes private entities but not political subdivision agencies, thus the Court affirmed the decision of the Trial Court, which denied summary judgment in favor of the College. The case was remanded back to the Commonwealth Court for continual hearings.

Read the full decision here

Kindergarten Absences a "No-No"

Mon, 06/16/2014

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Kerstetter: Jennifer Kerstetter has two twins who have numerous unexcused absences from their kindergarten class. The case concerns whether children under the age of 8 are required to attend school in compliance with the State's compulsory attendance law. Kerstetter argued that her children are not truant because they are 5 years old and because schools are not even required to offer a kindergarten program.


The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania stating that by signing her children up for kindergarten, Kerstetter opted-in for participation in the state school program and therefore has to comply with the compulsory attendance law. This ruling established that Kerstetter has a duty to send her children to kindergarten. The Court remanded the case for future proceedings.

Read the full decision here

Phone on Speaker Versus Wire Tapping

Mon, 04/28/2014

Pennsylvania v. Spence: Spence was convicted of multiple crimes including possession of drugs and being a dealer. He motioned to suppress evidence that had been collected through an officer’s action of dialing a phone number, placing the phone on a speaker setting, and then listening to the conversation between Spence and a participating informant. Spence argued that these actions violated the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act.


The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Pennsylvania, deciding that even though the officer was not a subscriber to the phone service or owner of the cell phone, the phone should not be considered a “device” that was used for purposes of “unlawful interception” by either the officer or the state. The convictions were upheld and motion to suppress evidence was dismissed.

Read the full decision here