Pennsylvania v. Jemison Jr. (majority)Annotate this Case
A Pittsburgh police officer on foot patrol came upon Appellant Duane Jemison, Jr.'s car which was parked improperly in a legally marked handicapped parking spot. Upon running the car's license plate number, the officer discovered that the car had been carjacked a few days before. As other officers arrived at the scene, Appellant entered the car and started to drive away, but was immediately stopped by a police vehicle in his path. The officers ordered Appellant to get out of the car. Rather than complying immediately, Appellant moved one of his hands downward toward the floorboard, where one of the officers then observed a gun. After a search, officers recovered a gun with the hammer back, the safety off, and a round in the chamber from the floor of the vehicle. Appellant was charged with persons not to possess a firearm, carrying a firearm without a license, resisting arrest, and two counts of receiving stolen property. He was tried by jury for persons not to possess a firearm, after this charge had been severed from the others. To establish Appellant's guilt of this charge, the Commonwealth was required to prove that Appellant had been previously convicted of a statutorily enumerated offense that barred him from possessing a firearm, and that he had, indeed, possessed a firearm. It was undisputed that, in 2008, Appellant had been convicted of robbery, and the Commonwealth sought to introduce at trial the evidence of this robbery conviction. However, Appellant sought to stipulate only that he had been convicted of one of the enumerated offenses, without stating that the specific offense was robbery. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was the continued viability of "Commonwealth v. Stanley," (446 A.2d 583 (Pa. 1982)), where the Court held that the prosecution was not required to accept a defendant's offer to stipulate to the fact of a prior conviction when the conviction was an element of the offense charged. Concluding that "Stanley" remained good law despite the United States Supreme Court's holding in "Old Chief v. United States," (519 U.S. 172 (1997)), the Pennsylvania Court affirmed the Superior Court's order affirming Appellant's sentence.