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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.


Supreme court declines to hear asylum appeal

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] declined to hear an appeal [order list] by a group of Central American asylum-seekers Monday who hoped the Court would overturn a lower court's ruling preventing them from having their removal orders reviewed by a federal judge. The lead plaintiff in the case, Rosa Castro, fled [memo, PDF] El Salvador in 2015 with her young son, seeking asylum [Reuters report] from what she said was ongoing physical and emotional abuse by her husband. The lower court ruled that the status of the families, all of whom were apprehended in Texas, was akin to... Full Story››

Palestinian prisoners organize hunger strike in Israel

[JURIST] Over 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners in six Israeli prisons embarked on an indefinite hunger strike starting on Monday, in observance of Palestinian Prisoners Day. The strikers say they want [Al Jazeera report] better medical care, more humane transfers between prisons, and the end of "administrative detention" where Palestinians are arrested without knowing why. According to Addameer, a prisoners' rights advocacy group, 500 prisoners [advocacy website] in Israeli jails are administrative detainees. The strike is led by Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted for participating in a terrorist attack against Israel. Israel claims [Times of Israel report] the strikes are a... Full Story››

Google reaches settlement with Russia regulators

[JURIST] Alphabet Inc. [official website], owner of Google, and the Russian Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) [official website], reached [FAS press release] an out-of-court settlement with in a dispute over Google's requiring Android phone manufacturers to pre-install its own search tool on Monday. In 2015 the FAS ruled that this requirement was an abuse of Google's market dominance and its actions excluded competing Russian search engines such as Yandex [official website]. After the FAS imposed a $7.8 million US fine on Google, Alphabet Inc. proposed a settlement in which the company agreed to refrain from requiring manufactures to pre-install their search... Full Story››

UN offical condemns attack on civilian evacuees in Syria

The under-secretary-general for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) [official website] Stephen O'Brien on Sunday condemned [press release] attacks against people, including many civilians, who were fleeing the Syrian towns of Foah and Kefraya. In his statement, O'Brien said the "perpetrators of such a monstrous and cowardly attack displayed a shameless disregard for human life," adding, "International humanitarian law is very clear: warring parties must protect civilians and distinguish between military and civilian targets." O'Brien said he was "horrified" by reports of explosions [BBC report] that occurred in the area Saturday, killing more than 120 people,... Full Story››

Supreme court hears arguments on jurisdiction, joinder, standing

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court heard [hearing list, PDF] oral arguments Monday on Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board, Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates, Inc. and California Public Employees’ Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, Inc. [SCOTUSblog materials] In Perry, the Court will decide whether a decision disposing of a case which involved both state employment actions and a federal anti-discrimination law dismissed on jurisdictional grounds can be subject to judicial review in either district court or in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In Chester, the Court will decide if intervenors joining a suit under Federal... Full Story››