March 22, 2016 |
IT REALLY makes you wonder. It makes you want to look into the dull, shortsighted eyes of our lackluster lawmakers and ask, "What exactly is wrong with you?" I'm not talking about heavy lifting on taxing and spending or budgets and pensions. We all know how weak they are in those areas. I'm talking about simple, common-sense stuff to save lives. For example, Pennsylvania is among a minority of states with lousy DUI laws, and repeatedly fails to adopt a law proven to reduce the mayhem that drunken driving causes.
March 15, 2016
"I have greatly sinned ... in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. " - From the Confiteor, a prayer said during the Penitential Act during a Roman Catholic Mass By Thomas P. Murt In Western Pennsylvania, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown knowingly protected priests who were known child molesters, according to a grand jury report. The diocese, the report continued, through church connections and pathetic public officials, protected the child-molesting priests from law enforcement and prosecution.
March 15, 2016 |
The allegations were horrific: Two football players at an academically elite high school held down a smaller freshman teammate trying to escape a hazing ritual, while a third used a broom handle to penetrate the younger boy's rectum. The three Conestoga High School students were charged with assault, unlawful restraint, and other counts - but not hazing. The lack of a hazing charge was the result of a "glaring omission" in state law, said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.
March 12, 2016 |
In 1990, on Robert Holbrook's 16th birthday, he joined a group of men on a robbery that turned into a killing. He received the only sentence Pennsylvania law allowed for murder: life without parole. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that mandatory life-without-parole sentences were unconstitutional for those younger than 18. This January, the court ruled that the ban must be applied retroactively, to people like Holbrook. Since then, Pennsylvania's high courts have vacated dozens of life sentences.
March 11, 2016 |
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court on Wednesday signaled it was unlikely to reinstate a controversial law that gave the National Rifle Association the right to challenge municipal gun ordinances across the state. During arguments that focused less on the merits of the 2014 measure than the legality of the process that made it a law, some justices had tough questions for an attorney for the Republican legislative leaders who helped enact the bill. "If, by brute force, the majority of the General Assembly can cram through any number of regulations ...," Justice David N. Wecht said, "the constitution takes a backseat.
March 7, 2016 |
Five years ago, Valerie Furlong's life was in turmoil. Both of her teenage sons, raised in South Jersey about 20 minutes from Camden, had become addicted to opiates. Yet when she tried to get them into rehabilitation centers, one of them was denied outright and the other was deemed ready for outpatient care after just two weeks, which would have put him right back into the environment where he became addicted - before it was safe to do so, Furlong said. That experience led Furlong to dedicate herself to ensuring that a 2008 federal law that requires insurance plans that cover mental illness and addition to treat those conditions the same as physical ailments.
March 7, 2016 |
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - In January, a deputy attorney general and two agents walked into a judge's chambers here with questions. They wanted to discuss a meeting decades earlier that had ended with a "monster" priest being allowed to go free. Back in 1985, Cambria County Judge Patrick T. Kiniry had been a local prosecutor, and met with Bishop James Hogan to discuss a priest suspected of sexually abusing children. As leader of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, the bishop had outsize influence in the area.
March 5, 2016 |
Four years ago, Landon Hacker needed a lawyer after his drug abuse and repeated brushes with the law landed him in prison. Hacker was headed in a bad direction, a cocaine and heroin junkie and homeless. A New Jersey judge predicted that Hacker would probably spend most of his life in prison. He managed to turn his life around, thanks to a state drug court program that gives offenders a second chance. He also moved a step closer this week to becoming a lawyer. Hacker, 28, of Burlington City, gave the keynote address Thursday in Mount Holly at two drug court commencement ceremonies, the same program he graduated from in 2014.
February 29, 2016 |
All things being equal, Frederick Steiner probably would have stayed in Austin as dean of the University of Texas' prestigious architecture program. But last week, he announced he was leaving to take the identical job at the University of Pennsylvania's somewhat less-stellar design school. The deciding factor? Steiner didn't want to police a new Texas law allowing licensed gun owners to bring concealed weapons to class. Although gun-rights advocates have promised that the looser rules will keep college campuses safe from mass shooters, Steiner concluded that he would be better off in Philadelphia, where - let's be honest - the homicide rate is nothing to brag about.
February 19, 2016
IF YOU'VE DEFAULTED on federal student loans, you can breathe more easily. You won't be arrested for simply failing to make payments. For a hot second, people were panicking after a Houston television station reported that a local man, Paul Aker, had been arrested because he owed $1,500 for a federal student loan he took out in 1987. "What's the worst that can happen to you if you don't pay your old federal student loans?" the anchor began the segment. "Garnishment, something on your credit report?