CRIMINAL LAW

Double Jeopardy • Preclusion of Testimony • Suppression • Weight and Sufficiency of Evidence

Commonwealth v. Orie, PICS Case No. 14-0398 (Pa. Super. March 6, 2014) Ott, J. (76 pages).

Where the defense submitted forged evidence, it created a fraud upon the court and declaring a mistrial was not an abuse of discretion; and where a defense witness’ testimony was irrelevant to the central theory of the defense, it was not an abuse of discretion to preclude the witness on retrial; and where evidence was seized pursuant to an overbroad search warrant, no constitutional violation occurred when the evidence was only later searched pursuant to a later, more particular search warrant; and where a defendant turned over documents to her attorney that were at that time already forged, such circumstantial evidence was sufficient and weighty enough to support a conviction for forgery; and where public monies were used to pay for a public official’s criminal defense, reimbursement was proper regardless of whether the legislative caucus that expended the monies was a state “agency”; and where two criminal counts were based on separate and distinct criminal acts, merger was not necessary; and where only the appearance of prosecutorial conflict of interest due to political competition existed, it was not proper to require the prosecutor to recuse himself or permit the introduction of a prosecutorial animus argument at trial; and where an elected official used state employees solely for campaign purposes as prohibited by a conflict of interest statute, said statute was not vague or overbroad. Affirmed.

Appellant Jane Orie, a former Pennsylvania state senator, appealed from her conviction on various charges after a second trial, stemming from her use of state-employed legislative staffers to perform work solely related to her campaigning and fund-raising activities. During jury deliberations in the first trial, various defense exhibits were determined to be forgeries; the trial court declared a mistrial. The commonwealth brought forgery charges against appellant and retried her along with the original charges.

On retrial, appellant was convicted and sentenced to incarceration and reimbursement of her defense costs. Appellant brought the appeal, raising a myriad of issues. In affirming the verdict and sentence, the court rejected all of appellant’s issues.