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Commonwealth v. Capitolo

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
498 A.2d 806 (1985)


Facts

Ignoring the clearly visible “No Trespass” sign, Capitolo (defendant) and others crawled under a fence surrounding a power plant and sat down holding hands in protest. A plant security guard told the group to leave or otherwise be arrested for trespassing. Capitolo and the others remained and were subsequently bodily removed from the property by deputy sheriffs and each charged with criminal trespass. There were no injuries that resulted from the group’s actions and no damage to property. At trial, Capitolo and the others attempted to rely on the state’s “choice of evils” law to justify that their conduct was necessary to avoid a greater harm, but their request for a jury instruction on the matter was rejected by the trial court. Capitolo and the others were convicted and they appealed. The appellate court reversed and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Papadakos, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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