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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.


Four Afghans transferred from Guantanamo

[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Saturday announced the repatriation [press release] of four Guantanamo Bay detainees to Afghanistan. The prisoners, Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir, were released after a review of their cases. Although originally detained on suspicion of being associated with groups such as the Taliban and other terrorist organizations, they had been cleared for transfer for quite some time. They were considered "low-level detainees" and not security risks in their home country. With the release, the population of Guantanamo has been reduced to only 132 prisoners, with an... Full Story››

Obama signs defense spending bill with provisions preventing Guantanamo closure

[JURIST] US President Barack Obama signed the annual federal defense policy bill into law Friday but expressed dissatisfaction [press release] over provisions that limit the his ability to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. HR 3979 [bill profile] authorizes a $585 billion dollar budget for Department of Defense (DOD) operations in 2015. The legislation also provides for military construction authorizations and Department of Energy national security authorizations. Obama commented that Guantanamo costs the US millions of dollars annually and it weakens the US national security regime:[T]he detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains open for the 13th consecutive year,... Full Story››

Spain's new public security laws ignite nationwide protests

[JURIST] Protests erupted in more than 30 cities in Spain on Saturday due to a new public security law that criminalizes certain types of social protests and demonstrations. Protests took place in both large and small cities, including Barcelona, Madrid, Almeria and Valencia. Some protesters wore tape on their mouths and carried signs calling the law a "gagging law. The law [HRW report; text, PDF in Spanish], which was approved last Thursday by the Spanish parliament [official website], is highly controversial and has been criticized as a specific way for the government to silence protesters of its handling of the... Full Story››

Jordan reinstates capital punishment after eight years

[JURIST] The Interior Ministry of Jordan announced [press release, in Arabic] 11 men were executed by hanging on Sunday, which marks the first time Jordanian authorities delivered capital punishment in eight years. The authorities convicted the men of murder between 2005-2006. All of the men were Jordanians. Since the most recent execution in mid-2006, King Abdullah II did not sign any execution orders, even as prisoners received death sentences. Abdullah stated in 2005 that potential changes to Jordan's penal code may eradicate the death penalty, and the international community urged Jordan to discontinue a regime that includes capital punishment. Human... Full Story››

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››