Hangley Aronchick attorneys John Summers and Cary Rice, assisted by paralegal Maria Hunter, submitted an amicus brief in Pennsylvania Superior Court on behalf of 24 law professors, directors of legal services organizations, and law firm pro bono directors centered around the Court’s March 5, 2018, panel decision denying Rusty Lee Brensinger’s Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) petition.

Through his PCRA petition, Mr. Brensinger sought to prove that the “Shaken Baby Syndrome” theory used to convict him for murder was junk science and that the child’s death was the result of a tragic accident, not a deliberate act.  The panel decision denied Mr. Brensinger’s PCRA petition as untimely, finding that Mr. Brensinger was represented by counsel in the years prior to 2015 and thus was not entitled to the pro se prisoner exception to the presumption that public record information (here, new science about “Shaken Baby Syndrome”) cannot be deemed unknown.   The amicus brief argued that the Court’s decision blurred lines between prospective and actual clients and lawyers’ professional responsibility obligations.  The Court granted amici curiae’s petition to participate in oral argument, and John Summers argued their position in front of the Court.  On August 30, 2019, the en banc panel of the Court reversed the panel decision as well as the trial court, generally adopting the position advanced by the amicus brief and underlying counsel and concluding that Mr. Brensinger is entitled to the pro se prisoner exception because he was unrepresented from 2008 to 2015.

Read the brief here.

Read the opinion here

FacebookTwitterLinkedIn