January 5, 2015 |
On leaving the city's old Family Court building, The Inquirer recently reported, some judges saw fit to take the fixtures with them to their new chambers. This neatly illustrated the distance between judicial impropriety and criminal guilt. No one - including the city officials who promised the court's antique accoutrements to the building's buyer - is planning to make a federal case out of this. Nor should they. Still, many Philadelphians are no doubt dismayed that their designated arbiters of justice appeared to stoop to stripping a public facility for parts.
December 28, 2014 |
Even as Gov. Christie has slammed the state Supreme Court as too "activist," his administration's inability to establish new affordable-housing rules has raised the prospect that the high court will intervene next year. New Jersey has failed for more than a decade to update its requirements to help municipalities satisfy their constitutional obligation to each provide a fair share of the region's affordable housing to low- and moderate-income residents. After repeated attempts by the Christie administration to fundamentally change that process, the court will hear oral arguments next month in a case brought by affordable-housing advocates, who want the justices to coordinate development of new rules.
December 26, 2014 |
When Merchantville physician Abbas Husain did not place his left hand on the Bible while being sworn in to testify in a Camden courtroom, a juror took notice. The juror later mentioned her surprise at Husain's action to Superior Court Judge Stephen Holden - after the jury awarded $12,500 to a woman who claimed Husain had sexually harassed her. The juror made the comments during a meeting between Holden and the jury. Husain learned about the discussion after Holden mentioned it to the attorneys.
December 24, 2014 |
Moments after his acquittal during the summer in a sweeping federal ticket-fixing case, a defiant Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Michael J. Sullivan said: "As far as I am concerned, I was indicted for doing my job. " Now, state judicial authorities hope to block him from ever returning to that post. On Monday, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board filed its own charges against Sullivan, 50, saying the court's culture of cronyism depicted at his trial undermined public confidence in the judicial system.
December 22, 2014 |
PENNSYLVANIA'S six Supreme Court justices have been cleared of sending improper emails in an independent review in the wake of a porn scandal that snared former Justice Seamus McCaffery. Special counsel Robert Byer, of Duane Morris LLP, said he reviewed about 4,800 emails sent to or from the justices and staff in the Attorney General's Office between 2008 and 2012. Excluding those from McCaffery, he concluded that the messages were appropriate and did not reveal any reason for the judges to recuse themselves from any cases.
December 17, 2014 |
Workers at Walmart and Sam's Club stores in Pennsylvania who worked off the clock and when they were supposed to be on break, or who were forced to skip their breaks, will receive $151 million in unpaid wages and damages, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled Monday, upholding lower- and appellate-court decisions. The case affects nearly 187,000 people employed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. from March 1998 through April 2006. "This demonstrates that [this] type of shortchanging of workers at a mammoth employer should not be tolerated and that the justice system should provide some form of relief for low-wage workers, particularly through class actions," said Michael D. Donovan of Donovan Axler L.L.C., in Philadelphia, the workers' lawyer.
December 15, 2014 |
NEW YORK - In a year of unusual political volatility, the chatter in the halls of the Waldorf-Astoria was all about who might run in what big races - for Philadelphia mayor and state Supreme Court justice next year and for U.S. Senate in 2016. And when attendees were not trading names of potential candidates, they were speculating about controversies surrounding U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane and debating how Gov.-elect Tom Wolf will respond to a budget crisis and a solidly GOP legislature when he takes office Jan. 20. This year's event featured some real news, with Supreme Court Justice Ronald D. Castille's comments on Kane, and the incoming Senate majority leader saying he was ready to talk budget deal with Wolf.
December 13, 2014 |
Concerned about the potential for exploitation as Pennsylvania's elderly population grows, a group appointed by the state Supreme Court has recommended wide-ranging legal changes to protect older people from neglect, abuse, and fraud. The 38-member group known as the Elder Law Task Force called for better training for judges about elder issues, criminal background checks for guardians, and training that includes information on ethics, a mandatory reporting requirement for financial institutions that suspect financial abuse, and an amendment to the state's Slayer Statute to prevent people convicted of abusing an elder from benefiting from their victim's estate.
December 9, 2014 |
It's an unfortunate irony that the corruption cases against former Philadelphia traffic judges were thwarted by the sort of legal and factual nuances that hardly troubled the defendants. The federal judge and jurors who heard the case clearly believed, as a state Supreme Court report and federal prosecutors contended, that fixing tickets for the connected was standard practice in Traffic Court. For the same reason, the state legislature moved with uncharacteristic alacrity and bipartisanship to dismantle the court.
December 5, 2014 |
For three decades in West Philadelphia's Mantua neighborhood, nearly everyone knew the name Kermit Barron Gosnell. Long before he became infamous as an illegal abortionist sentenced to three life-in-prison terms, Gosnell's clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave. was the "urgent care" center of its day for the poor and uninsured. To the U.S. Supreme Court, however, Gosnell was just case 14-6672, one of more than 200 petitions seeking consideration. Last month, the court told Gosnell, "No. " In January, the 73-year-old prisoner filed an appeal of his guilty plea and sentence on federal charges that he sold prescriptions for dangerous narcotics, in what authorities call a "pill mill.