Intimidating a witness pa Unprotected dating
“It is another step in our efforts to reform the criminal justice system in Philadelphia.” The second initiative stems from a grant provided by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to fund the writing of a “bench book” on witness intimidation.The publication is being distributed to judges and the courts across the state this week.Suss served as a Deputy District Attorney in the Chester County’s District Attorney’s Office for 18 years, is a legal educator and co-authored a book on the issue of “mandatory sentencing.” He was the primary drafter of the new Witness Intimidation bench book.It will serve as a manual to help spot signs of intimidation and it explains legal options in order to proceed with holding defendants accountable for their terrible actions.The Honorable Renee Cardwell Hughes served as the head of an editorial panel appointed to address the matter. Phillips, Jr., Chairman of the Philadelphia Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), PCCD Executive Director Michael Kane, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judges Glenn Bronson and Gwendolyn Bright, Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney John Delaney, defense attorneys Michael Schwartz and Benjamin Eichel of Pepper Hamilton LLC, and former Senior Deputy State Attorney General Stuart Suss to complete the book.Philadelphia, January 28, 2011: The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office thanks Chief Justice Ronald D.Castille, Justice Seamus Mc Caffery and Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes, who worked with a panel of legal experts from across the state, for two new ground-breaking initiatives to rein in the burdens and intimidation facing witnesses in criminal cases.
The rule will greatly reduce both “burnout” and the opportunity for intimidation against witnesses who have repeatedly had to rub shoulders in crowded courtrooms with the people who committed crimes against them.
“The new rule will affect over 5,000 witnesses a year in Philadelphia, who will no longer have to make unnecessary trips to court for preliminary hearings,” said Justice Mc Caffery.
Now, under the new rule, witnesses will not have to appear at all at preliminary hearings to testify to routine matters in burglary, car theft and similar cases that make up a significant portion of the criminal docket.
Instead, they will only need to testify once, at the trial itself, where the guilt or innocence of the defendant will be finally adjudicated.
“Criminals essentially believe if there is no witness, there is no case,” District Attorney Seth Williams said.
“I am grateful that the Supreme Court and Judge Hughes are taking action to stop witness intimidation and to reduce the hardships on citizens who do their duty and come forward to report what they see.” The first initiative is a change to statewide rules concerning the use of hearsay in criminal cases.