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From Our Staff to You

2014 is winding down.  Time for reflection on the past year and anticipation for the new year ahead.  The staff of the Berks County Bar Association is very proud of our membership and the community we serve.

For the year 2014 access to justice has been afforded to more than 1,250 persons by our Lawyer Referral Service and Modest Means Programs.  Our members make that access possible. 

We are also thankful for our members who helped to educate the public by presenting on BCTV’s “Ask a Lawyer”  show.  The public also benefited in 2014 by our support for the Lecture on Contemporary Legal Issues at Albright College and the Batdorf Lecture at Alvernia University.

Continuing Legal Education continues to excel, thanks to our member-presenters.  The Bench-Bar Conference again set a record for attendance, and the inaugural Family Law Conference was an incredible success.  Members Eugene Orlando, Jr. and William Blumer, working with Medical Society member Dr. Dan Kimball, have presented seminars on end-of-life decision making for our members and for the public on WEEU’s Feedback show.

To better serve our community, Rainy Leonor-Lake joined our staff this year as Community Outreach Coordinator.  She assists Spanish-speaking clients coming to our Lawyer Referral Service and is coordinating educational programs in the community.

We look forward to an even better 2015 as we strengthen our existing programs, while prepared to meet new needs and challenges.  Andrea, Karen, Paula, Rainy and Don wish you the very best this Holiday Season and may you enjoy a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Seventh Annual Holiday Benefit Luncheon Was Great Success!

More than 450 guests attended the annual Holiday Benefit Luncheon hosted by the Reading Chapter of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Law Foundation of Berks County on December 5, 2014.

The event included the presentation of the Sidney D. Kline, Jr. Award for Outstanding Community Service to Ann and Chris Kraras by Law Foundation President John J. Speicher.  Both have been incredibly active in support of many community endeavors.  As President Speicher said, “Ann and Chris lead by example.  They are the warmest and most generous people I know.  If anyone should follow Sid in receiving this award, it is Ann and Chris.” 

Continue reading about Ann and Chris››

Highlight of the luncheon was the appearance of Jamie Moyer, a key member of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Championship Team and Phillies broadcaster for the 2014 season.  Jamie responded to questions by Event Chair Mark Caltagirone and Baseball Aficionado Brian Engelhardt, as well as from the audience.  

Very articulate in his responses, Jamie spoke from the heart in describing the work of his Foundation and the Grief Camps for children who have suffered a loss of a family member.  He also shared insights on his pitching style which allowed him to compete in the professional leagues for 25 years, setting a record for being the oldest pitcher to earn a win.

A great beginning to the Holiday Season, please plan on attending next year – December 4, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Reading.

Looking for a Lawyer?

Have you just been served with a complaint seeking to foreclose on your home or to change the child custody arrangement or to evict you from your apartment?  Or are you considering bankruptcy?

You need to consult with an attorney.  Our members are skilled attorneys who can fight for your rights, draft valid legal documents and stand by you in the courtroom.  Don’t be misled by television ads for online legal forms.  Notaries and petition preparers cannot give legal advice or accompany you to court.  And “do-it-yourself” law is a fast lane to disaster.   Our members know Pennsylvania law, are available for personal consultations and are accountable to you. 

If you feel overwhelmed looking for the attorney right for you, go here for more information on what the Berks County Bar Association can do for you.

Foreclosure Mediation Program Continues

The Berks County Bar Association, in conjunction with the Berks County Courts and Neighborhood Housing Services, have created a program by which those threatened with the loss of their home can seek relief. The program began January 1 and is continuing.  Those served with a complaint in a consumer debt or home mortgage case may take advantage of the program.

Read More› for a description of the program.

The program is also explained on a recent "Ask a Lawyer" television show. Go here to view the program. As of July 16, 216 cases have requested to participate. Go here for a detailed update.


Nigeria court sentences 54 soldiers to death

[JURIST] A Nigerian court martial sentenced 54 soldiers to death for mutiny, their lawyer, Nigerian human rights activist Femi Falana [The Nation news archive], stated on Thursday. The soldiers were found guilty of mutiny while fighting the insurgent Boko Haram [BBC backgrounder] Islamist group, in which the soldiers refused to assist in recapturing three towns taken by the group. The troops claimed that they were provided with too few and inadequate weapons and equipment to fight against the insurgents. The men were charged with offenses including absconding, assault, house breaking and disorderly behavior. Troops of the Nigerian army have also... Full Story››

New York governor to ban fracking statewide

[JURIST] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] and his administration said Wednesday that they will block hydraulic fracturing [report, PDF] across the state. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking [JURIST backgrounder] is a controversial method of tapping natural gas deposits with high pressurized water. The method, commonly used in the local Marcellus shale [PA DCNR website] deposits, has raised environmental and public health concerns. The report concluded a six-year study, in which the administration found that the potential benefits of tapping natural gas with fracking procedures are not outweighed by these public health risks. This decision could bring many lawsuits in... Full Story››

Oklahoma, Nebraska challenge Colorado marijuana law

[JURIST] Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against neighboring Colorado on Thursday over the new marijuana market, claiming the state-regulated recreational marijuana shops are piping marijuana into neighboring states [NYT] where marijuana is illegal. In the lawsuit, filed directly with the US Supreme Court [official website], the two states are also claiming that legalized marijuana violates the Supremacy Clause [text] of the US Constitution. The lawsuit contends that allowing Colorado to continue with its state-run marijuana shops is in direct conflict with federal law and the Supremacy Clause, and is therefore unconstitutional. Neighboring states claim they have seen... Full Story››

Rights group condemns removal of Maldives Supreme Court justices

[JURIST] The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) [advocacy website] on Thursday condemned [press release] the removal of two Maldives Supreme Court [official website] justices including Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain. The dismissal of the justices stems from an amendment to the Judicature Act, 2010 [text, PDF] passed on December 10 by the Maldives parliament, which reduced the number of Supreme Court judges from seven to five. The Geneva-based advocacy group has criticized the amendment, stating that "the Maldivian parliament and executive have effectively decapitated the country's judiciary and trampled on the fundamental principles of the rule of law and separation... Full Story››

Egypt court sentences 40 Morsi supporters over violence

[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Thursday convicted 40 supporters of former president Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for committing violence last year in the wake of Morsi's ousting by the Egyptian military. The group of Islamists were found guilty [BBC report] by a criminal court of burning churches, shops and police stations in the southern city of Assiut. Two of the defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison. The rest were given sentences ranging from one to 10 years, and 61 were acquitted. According to the BBC, 1,400 people have been killed in the government crackdown against... Full Story››