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The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy

The 2017 Law Day theme provides us with the opportunity to highlight the many ways the Fourteenth Amendment has reshaped American law and society. Through its Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, this transformative amendment advanced the rights of all Americans. It also played a pivotal role in extending the reach of the Bill of Rights to the states. Ratified during Reconstruction a century and a half ago, the Fourteenth Amendment serves as the cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation, the foundation for numerous federal court decisions protecting fundamental rights, and a source of inspiration for all those who advocate for equal justice under law. To mark the amendment’s contribution to the civil rights movement, we are pleased that our keynote speaker will be Rosa Parks, brought to life by Alex Ford, an actress with American Historical Theatre.

Also at this luncheon program, the Howard Fox Memorial Law Scholarship will be presented, and the winners of the annual Law Day essay contest and of the annual Berks County interscholastic mock trial competition will be recognized.

Important Statements of Support

Statement in Support of Federal Funding of Civil Legal Services

MidPenn Legal Services provides free representation to Berks County low-income families needing help with child custody, domestic violence, housing, public benefits, employment and consumer issues.

Statement in Support of Federal Funding of Legal Aid continued››

Berks County Bar Association Board of Directors Statement
on Judicial Independence

In light of recent, critical comments by the President of the United States directed at members of our judicial branch of government while litigation was pending, and in light of the fact that judges who have been criticized, by rule, are not permitted to respond publicly, the Board of Directors of the Berks County Bar Association has decided that it is appropriate to issue this statement in support of our Federal Constitution.

Statement on Judicial Independence continued››

Access to Courthouse/Family Dockets

Access link here››

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.


LafargeHolcim CEO resigns after admitting company paid armed Syria groups

[JURIST] Eric Olsen [corporate profile], CEO of cement manufacturer LafargeHolcim [corporate website], announced on Monday that he will resign following the discovery that LafargeHolcim had paid armed groups in Syria to prevent a factory from closing. French prosecutors are investigating [Reuters report] the payments, and two human rights groups filed a complaint in a French court against the corporation, alleging that it may have been "complicit in financing Islamic State and in war crimes." Olsen said in his resignation [text], "While I was absolutely not involved in, nor even aware of, any wrongdoing I believe my departure will contribute to... Full Story››

Supreme Court hears arguments on two capital punishment cases

The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments on Monday in McWilliams v. Dunn and Davila v. Davis [dockets], two cases related to capital punishment. In McWilliams [SCOTUSblog materials], the court heard arguments [transcript, PDF] on whether a defendant in Alabama whose mental health was an issue in his case should have been entitled to psychiatric assistance independent of the prosecution. The petitioner was sentenced to death after being convicted of the rape and murder of a woman in 1984. His trial attorney received a report from the inmate's psychiatric hospital the day before sentencing, and another psychological report... Full Story››

Lawyer files ICC complaint against Philippines president over alleged death squad

[JURIST] Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio [personal Twitter] filed a complaint [text, PDF] Monday against Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte accusing him of extrajudicial killings during his nationwide anti-drugs crackdown. The 77-page complaint was filed before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] and asks the court to prosecute Duterte over his involvement in the Davao Death Squad [HRW backgrounder]. In an accompanying statement, Sabio accused the Duterte of "repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously" committing extrajudicial executions from his term as Mayor of Davao City through to his current presidency. Sabio is asking the ICC [PhilStar report] to charge Duterte and 11 senior... Full Story››

Jordan repeals law opponents said pardoned rape

[JURIST] The Jordanian Cabinet [official website] on Sunday revoked Article 308 [penal code text, in Arabic], a provision of Jordan's penal code which opponents said would allow rapists to avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim for at least three years. Although the statute was amended [BBC report] in 2016 to only apply to women and girls between the ages of 15 to 18 where the interaction was believed to be consensual, women's right groups intensified [Jordan Times report] their efforts to have the law repealed. According to a report [text, PDF] by Equality Now [official website],... Full Story››

Iran supreme court upholds five-year prison sentence for woman on undisclosed charges

The Supreme Court of Iran [official website] upheld the conviction and five-year prison sentence of a British-Iranian woman on Monday, but did not disclose the crime she is accused of committing. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested [Al Jazeera report] at an airport last summer after visiting her Iranian parents and introducing them to their granddaughter, according to statements from her husband. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's daughter remains in Iran, with her grandparents. Although no specific charges were disclosed when she was indicted by the Revolutionary Court in Iran last September, Iran's top prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said she was involved in a plot seeking... Full Story››