Saturday, August 2, 2008

Conflict of Laws

III. Conflict of Laws

The analysis regarding conflict of laws is identical to that articulated in defendant’s previously filed briefs regarding the electronic intercepts and search of defendant’s home. To summarize, this matter presents a question of conflict between substantive and not procedural laws. See Larrison v. Larrisori, 2000 Pa.Super 111, 750 A.2d 895 (2000).

"In cases where the substantive laws of Pennsylvania conflict with those of a sister state in the civil context, Pennsylvania courts take a flexible approach which permits analysis of the policies and interests underlying the particular issue before the court. See Griffith v. UnitedAirlinos, 416 Pa.1, 203 A.2d 796, 805 (1964). This approach gives the state having the most interest in the question paramount control over the legal issues arising from a particular factual context, thereby allowing the forum to apply the policy of the Jurisdiction most intimately concerned wIth the outcome. ld. We believe that a similar approach should be taken in the criminal context where the substantive laws of this Commonwealth conflict with those of a sister state.” Commonwealth v. Sanchez, et al, 552 Pa, 570, 576, 716 A 1221, 1224 (1998) (Emphasis supplied).

Because Pennsylvania law enforcement initiated the charges against the defendant, Pennsylvania law enforcement traveled to Virginia and elicited the statements from the defendant and Pennsylvania prosecuted the defendant, Pennsylvania has the greater interest in the outcome.

The Sanchez case makes this distinction even more clear. In Sanchez a canine sniff of a package in California which was sent to a Pennsylvania resident gave rise to the probable cause necessary for issuance of a Pennsylvania search warrant, Sanchez, 716 A.2d at 1222. The canine sniff was legal under California law but not Pennsylvania law. ld. at 1223. The Sanchez court concluded that California possessed the greater interest in the validity of the canine sniff and because the sniff complied with California law, it could be used to support probable cause in Pennsylvania. ld. at 1224.

In reaching this conclusion, the Sanchez court reasoned:

No Pennsylvania state interest would be advanced by analyzing the propriety of the canine sniff under Pennsylvania law because the canine sniff did not occur in Pennsylvania and no Pennsylvania state officer was involved in the canine sniff.

Thus we hold that if the courts of a sister state determine that a canine sniff is not a search in that state, the propriety of a sniff initiated by that state’s officers and conducted within that state’s borders must be evaluated under the laws of that state.

ld. at 1224, 1225. (Emphasis supplied).

Analysis compels the result that Pennsylvania law applies to the admissibility of the defendant’s statements.