Duquesne Law Review


Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Hearing Act includes several provisions designed to discourage repetitive requests for collateral relief from criminal convictions. According to the author, a series of decisions by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, culminating in Commonwealth v. Watlington, have weakened these protective measures by making them vulnerable to frivolous allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel. The author examines the leading decisions and discusses the supreme court's recent attempt, in Commonwealth v. Alexander, to provide guidelines to lower courts for dealing with petitions making these allegations. He concludes by proposing a statutory modification to the Post Conviction Hearing Act which would empower lower courts to dispose of such petitions in a summary proceeding that determines whether specific errors by prior counsel prejudiced the petitioner's constitutional rights.

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