Pennsylvania v. Wallace

Appellee’s lengthy criminal record spans 14 pages with a total of 228 charges, terminating in four convictions, four guilty pleas, fourteen withdrawals, fifty-three dismissals, forty-four nolle prosequi, three transfers to family court, sixteen acquittals, five sustained demurrers, thirty transfers to the juvenile division, and fifty-five held for court. Between April 2010 and January 2011, Appellee filed eight separate pro se petitions in Philadelphia under the name Mark Wallace, or one of his aliases, Mark Green or James Smith, seeking destruction of fingerprints, photographs, and arrest records from past charges that had not resulted in convictions. The Commonwealth estimated that Appellee sought in total the expungement of approximately 150 charges. After determining that hearings were unnecessary, the trial court denied each of Appellee’s eight petitions in separate orders issued from May 2010 to March 2011. Appellee appealed each denial to the Superior Court, which consolidated the eight appeals and ultimately reversed the trial court in a published opinion. Having rejected the trial court’s analysis, the Superior Court concluded that “some of Appell[ee]’s non-conviction arrest records may be eligible for expungement.” However, due to confusion from the record at hand, the Superior Court was unable to determine which specific charges might be subject to expungement, and so the court remanded to the trial court for clarification. The Commonwealth filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal to the Supreme Court on the whether the Superior Court erred by holding that an incarcerated career criminal had a due process right to a hearing at which the trial court must determine - on a charge by charge basis - whether over a hundred prior criminal charges against him should be expunged. Because the trial court’s findings "are sound and strongly supported by the record," the Supreme Court found "no reason to disturb the trial court’s holdings." The Supreme Court found that an inmate did not have the right to petition for expungment while incarcerated. Accordingly, the order of the Superior Court reversing the orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County was vacated and the orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County were reinstated. View "Pennsylvania v. Wallace" on Justia Law