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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.


Environmental groups sue EPA over storm drain pollution

[JURIST] Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit [brief, PDF] on Thursday against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] accusing the group of failing to comply with a court order to strengthen storm drain pollution regulation. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) [advocacy websites] claim that the EPA has failed to obey a court order from a 2003 case EDC v. EPA, which required the agency to redo its 1999 urban storm runoff regulations. The order, which also suggested that the agency consider creating regulations for unpaved forest road runoffs, stemmed from the court's... Full Story››

Kenya parliament approves controversial anti-terrorism law

[JURIST] Kenya's parliament [official website] on Thursday passed a sweeping new anti-terrorism law after some of its members engaged [YouTube video] in a shoving match that led to blows being exchanged. Those opposed to the bill, citing violations of free speech and other civil liberties, shouted, threw water, and even threw books at the Speaker in protest of the bill. The bill allows security services to detain suspected criminals without charging them for up to 360 days, allows media members to be persecuted for publishing material that is likely to cause fear or alarm, and enables a domestic spy force... Full Story››

Federal appeals court strikes down gun law

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] that a law prohibiting individuals who have been committed to a mental institution for any amount of time from possessing a firearm is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment [text]. The challenge to the federal gun law arose out of a case involving a man named Clifford Charles Tyler, who was committed to a mental institution for one month 28 years ago, after an emotional divorce from his wife. Although the law in most states provides that a "mentally-disabled" person should be granted relief... Full Story››

Supreme Court refuses to delay Florida same-sex marriage

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday refused to delay [order, PDF] a federal judge's order that would permit same-sex couples to marry in Florida after January 5, despite state officials' pleas for the delay to be upheld. This order is the result of an early December decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website], in which the judges declined to further stay [JURIST report] a lower court's ruling that overturned Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. Florida's ban was struck down [JURIST report] in August. Justice Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia would have... Full Story››

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››