Pennsylvania v. Rivera (majority)Annotate this Case
William Rivera appealed the death sentence he received for the 1995 carjacking and murder of Tae Hung Kang. The Post-Conviction Relief court limited his appeal to one issue — whether penalty phase counsel was ineffective for failing to present mental health and life history mitigation evidence. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated on numerous occasions that “no number of failed claims may collectively warrant relief i[f] they fail to do so individually.” However, the Court has also acknowledged that “‘if multiple instances of deficient performance are found, the assessment of prejudice properly may be premised upon cumulation.’” The Court found "the great majority" of appellant’s individual claims lacked merit, therefore the Court was satisfied appellant was not entitled to relief based on cumulative prejudice. Therefore, the PCR court properly dismissed appellant's petition for relief after having limited its hearing to one issue.