Berks Jurists on the Federal Bench
How to Search Like a Pro STUDENT LOANS – OPTIONS AND STRATEGIES
How can I recommend a charity without recommending a charity?
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jesse L. Pleet, President
Jill Gehman Koestel, President-Elect Kurt Althouse, Vice President Lisa A. Siciliano, Secretary Justin D. Bodor, Treasurer Elizabeth A Magovern, Director Honorable Timothy J. Rowley, Director George A. Gonzalez, Director Peter F. Schuchman, Director Mary K. Bernosky, Director Michael A. Setley, Director G. Thompson Bell, III, Past President Thad M. Gelsinger, President YLS
BAR ASSOCIATION STAFF
DONALD f. SMITH, JR., Esquire, Executive Director andrea j. stamm, Lawyer Referral/Secretary Karen A. Loeper, Law Journal Secretary Paula j. ziegler, Communications Manager RAINY LEONOR-LAKE, Community Outreach Coordinator ROARKE ASTON, Law Journal Editor JOHN E. REIGLE, Law Journal Assistant Editor Matthew M. Mayer, Barrister Editor
Please submit materials or comments to: Berks County Bar Association 544 Court Street, P.O. Box 1058 Reading, PA 19603-1058 Phone: 610.375.4591 Fax: 610.373.0256 Email: email@example.com www.berksbar.org
Our thanks are extended to the numerous people who have contributed to The Berks Barrister. Your time, energy and efforts are sincerely appreciated.
P U B L I S H E D
Reading, PA | 610.685.0914 x201 hoffmannpublishing.com For advertising information contact Tracy Hoffmann at firstname.lastname@example.org
“White Boy, You Stink”
Student Loans - Options and Strategies
Legal Spirits Happy Hour
March Madness Party
The Berks County Seat of the Federal District Court
Bench Bar Conference and Spring Meeting
Departments: 1 President’s Message
5 Technology - Frankly Speaking
21 Restaurant Review
16 Book Review
22 Miscellaneous Docket
18 Spotlight on New Members
The cover features the portraits of the Berks Federal Eastern District Judges hanging in the Courthouse’s Lawyers’ Lounge. Beginning at the lower left and continuing left to right: Judges Ralph C. Body, Allan K. Grim, Daniel H. Huyett, III, Thomas M. Golden and Jeffrey L. Schmehl. One of Judge Golden’s last request of the Bar Association was that his portrait not hang by the water cooler in the Lounge. That request has been honored for all of them.
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LEADERSHIP | SUPPORT | SOLUTIONS
President’s Message Jesse L. Pleet, Esquire, 2015 President
Where Do We Go from Here? There is an old saying that “nothing just happens.” So it goes with strategic planning for our Berks County Bar Association (“BCBA”). As a rank and file member in 2011 and self-absorbed in my law practice, I never knew the BCBA had embarked on a strategic planning process. Under the leadership of 2011 President Jill M. Scheidt, the “Berks County Strategic Planning Matrix” (“Plan”) was developed. That framework was established in November 2011 as a three-year Plan for calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Plan was launched January 1, 2012 with our new President, Frederick K. Hatt. G. Thompson Bell, III, Vice President in 2012, had been appointed Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee (“Planning Committee”). Gene Orlando was President-Elect and would be President of the BCBA in the second year of the Plan in 2013. Tom Bell would eventually be President in 2014, the final year of the plan. Yours truly was elected Vice President for 2013 and had first exposure to this process guiding our decisions in the direction of the BCBA. Our Board of Directors (“Board”) and the Planning Committee had surveyed our membership, collaborated with representatives from the Pennsylvania Bar Association and American Bar Association, and met frequently coordinating with our Executive Director, Donald F. Smith, Jr., to administer the new Plan. All aspects of bar association operations had been closely examined. This included improving service and programs to members, support of our Berks County state and federal judiciaries; and improving outreach into the community to better serve our clients and the general public. Six general goals were established for strategic planning purposes. Goal One was to continue to offer exceptional benefits and resources that are essential to practice law in Berks County. Goal Two focused upon enhancing communications regarding BCBA members, programs, and
volunteering opportunities. Goal Three targeted raising the visibility of the BCBA in the community and the value of hiring a lawyer. Goal Four was to ensure the BCBA’s financial stability and effective operations. Goal Five was to preserve the integrity of the court system. Goal Six was to advance the strategic planning process. Action items, next steps, assignments of responsibility, and timelines were established for each goal. All members of the Planning Committee and Board participated under the leadership of the chair, Tom Bell, with our Presidents each year. Implementation was underway. Don Smith guided our progress. Heavy attention was placed upon our Committee and Section structure as a way to reach all of our members with program, MCLE, and best practices. Continued on page 2
At the Conference of County Bar Leaders, President Pleet accepted the County Recognition Award from CCBL President John Howland for the BCBA’s series of seminars on End-of-Life Decision Making. Looking on were PBA officers (L-R): Vice President Sara Austin, President Elect Bill Pugh the 5th and President Frank O’Connor.
Berks Barrister | 1
Where Do We Go from Here? Continued from page 1
Extra efforts were made to provide information on the latest technologies and how to incorporate them. This included making sure our BCBA facilities were comfortable and Wi-Fi compatible throughout the building. The strategic plan included revamping the appearance and content of our BCBA website. More and more members were eschewing the written version of the Berks County Law Journal and accepting its content along with On Tap and E-Briefs on computers, lap tops, notebooks, and smart phones. Our newly identified Communications Director, Paula Ziegler, worked closely with the BCBA staff and our members to facilitate the transition for web-based outreach. The “Safe Ask” Panels and Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referrals were developed and have been featured on the website along with our highly successful Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. Our new Minority Section, chaired by George Gonzalez, met for the first time in February 2015. They discussed the shortage of Spanish speaking interpreters to service our clients, the courts, and community. Judge Mary Ann Ullman and George are working to recruit more Latino families as foster parents after months of preliminary work laid by Don Smith reaching out to Latino Pastors to solicit their support. Another recent initiative…Gene Orlando chaired the BCBA Will Repository Task Force in 2014 working closely with William R. Blumer. This culminated in a Resolution unanimously adopted by the Board in November 2014 enabling the BCBA to acquire Last Wills and Testaments from estates of lawyers who had otherwise not made adequate provision for transitions of their clients’ wills. This addressed a problem for clients looking for their estate instruments upon the death of their lawyer where prior arrangements had not been consummated. We forged partnerships with Albright College and Alvernia University to provide informative lectures on legal topics of widespread interest. We expanded our pro bono opportunities to include Berks Women in Crisis and Berks Encore to provide for their access to counsel. Similarly, we have increased our networking with the Latino Chamber of Commerce and Hispanic Council. Immigration reform is necessary. Meanwhile, our BCBA supports the pro bono work that Carol Anne Donohoe, Jacquelyn Kline, and Bridget Cambria have selflessly undertaken
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at the Berks County Residential Center to protect those families with young children lawfully seeking asylum in our country. We have an ethical responsibility as lawyers and citizens to the detainees in desperate need of counsel. The Board will be providing MCLE this year to expand our efforts to meet that need. 2015 has been a transition year between the conclusion of our initial three-year plan and embarking on preparation of a new plan for calendar years 2016, 2017, and 2018. This will further address all aspects of our role in both the legal and general communities. At the same time, we will be addressing succession planning for Don Smith’s announced retirement by the end of 2018. Kurt Althouse will have completed his term as Immediate Past President in 2018. Our yet-to-be elected Vice President at the Fall Meeting in 2015 would be President of the BCBA in 2018 charged with overseeing the hiring of a new Executive Director for 2019. We have an exciting year ahead. It has been productive thus far including our best attended ever Bench-Bar Conference on April 7 with 250 attendees and enthusiastic participation in the plenary and break-out sessions. Our panel of judicial candidates in a moderated format was very well received. All of us pulling together make ours the fine, strong association we have come to appreciate and enjoy. So, where do we go from here? We look back in appreciation at Past Presidents Scheidt, Hatt, Orlando, and Bell, all working closely with Don Smith, who collectively brought us to this moment. They paved the way for us to forge ahead with our continued strategic planning process.
See you at the bar!
Jesse L. Pleet, President
“White Boy, You Stink” The future of basketball said few words on the trip from the precinct at 61st & Thompson in West Philadelphia to Wilmington, Delaware. When I slipped into the paddy wagon, I was greeted by two friendly dark faces with shiny pearl white teeth. That is how I remember Ira Davis and Sandy Sadler. The other members from the outside group were friendly enough, but just enough. Dippy, the prodigy, sat across from me. My eyes stared at his kneecaps which were practically in my face. Big Tom, Ira and Sandy dominated the conversation. I wouldn’t call it jive talk but it was lively and non- academic. Ira Davis spoke slowly and pronounced every word carefully. Big Tom laughed a lot. Much of the conversation centered on Big Tom’s command over people who were “cruising for a bruising.” I couldn’t get a good look at Dippy’s face in the paddy wagon. He was beyond extremely tall and thin and had a deep voice which sounded like it came out of the bowels of the earth. I did not know it at the time but we already had had a connection. My next door neighbor on Ludlow Street taught Dippy in the fifth grade. The silent one, sitting across from me, looked like a praying mantis. He had to be the second tallest and thinnest person I had ever seen, and fifteen year old Dippy (that’s what they called him), a 9th grader, would be going to high school next year. Patrolman Frank Drummond (the Police Athletic League cop) told us that Dippy was the future of basketball. I differed with Bulldog Drummond on that assessment. I told him, “Tom Gola’s the future of basketball.” I didn’t mention 7’1” Bill French. That seventeen year old, the Catholic League scoring leader, who huffed and puffed like an old man, had trouble getting up and down the court. I assumed that Dippy would have similar problems. On the way to Wilmington, sitting in silence across from him, I studied him. He had hands that could hold a basketball like a softball. Extremely thin, he consented to play for a postgame meal. Worldly wise Drummond told me that feeding Dippy costs his parents a lot of money. Lost in Wilmington, we arrived at the gym after the game had been scheduled to start. I figured out the origin of his name when he walked into the gym at Salesianum High. He had to dip under the door to avoid hitting his head. I took my seat on the bench after our brief warm-up ended. When the game started, it was all Dippy. He didn’t move like Bill French. Dippy did it all, as in blocked shots, rebounded, passed, dunked the ball, and shot with extreme accuracy from close range. He also ran like a gazelle. He wasn’t huffing and puffing going up and down the court. Big Tom took the rebounds Dippy didn’t get. Ira Davis and Sandy Sadler played the guard positions. They, both six footers, dribbled like college players. Brogan, the one white face in our
By Francis M. Mulligan, Esquire
line-up, usually a ball-hog, hardly touched the ball. The first half ended when the ref decided to give the excollege players from Delaware a rest The second half didn’t go much better for Delaware’s finest. Dippy scored sixty-five points before it ended. My time off the bench came with a few minutes left on the clock. On this historic occasion I wanted to score. Dippy rebounded at the opponents’ end of the court. I still remember holding my hands high to take the pass. Dippy threw it to me. I dribbled over half court and made my way to a favored spot outside the foul circle. I fired my first two handed set shot. It went inside the rim spun around and came out on the wrong side of the net. “A ring-tail howitzer” Les Keiter, the radio voice of college basketball, would call it. It happened two more times. Dippy rebounds, throws me the ball, I take a set shot and it spins around inside the basket and comes out. The fourth time I yelled, “Dippy, throw me the ball.” He shook his head side-ways, dribbled down the court and dunked the ball. The game ended seconds later. We dressed on the court by putting our winter clothes over our basketball clothes. Drummond ordered us into the paddywagon and off we went. He had to get back to Philadelphia continued on next page
Berks Barrister | 3
“White Boy. You Stink” Continued from page 3
before Linton’s closed. Dippy became talkative on the way back to Philadelphia. He started by critiquing my game. In that less genteel time in American history, we, both races, referred to each other by our color. In a voice worthy of an opera star, Dippy sitting across from me said, “White boy, you stink.” I made no reply. I had him figured out. He wanted a return on his investment- the three rebounds he passed to me. He then turned to Junior Wynne- a colored boy from our regular 29th Precinct team. “Be like the white boy. You got to score to be recognized. The white boy got that part right.” At Linton’s, Dippy and Big Tom ate a ton of food. After seeing Dippy play, I could understand his caloric needs. The following week I didn’t play in the game at Conshohocken. I stayed home and studied. Brogan told me what happened when I bumped into him at school. “Conshohocken had an all colored team. Dippy ran through them the same way he handled the white team in Delaware. Near the end of the game he even passed the ball to one of them. One of their players said, “Dippy, pass me the ball.” Drummond took Dippy out of the game and asked him why he did that. Dippy, using his power voice , said:
“Mister Drummond, step aside.” Dippy walked down to the empty end of the bench. Drummond followed him. In a softer voice he inquired: “What kind of a boy did I throw the ball to?” The Conshohocken team only had one kind of boy. “A colored boy.” Dippy looked out to the game in progress. “What kind of boys are Ira, Sandy and Big Tom?” Drummond didn’t like being interrogated by a teenager, but he answered. “Colored boys.” Dippy then explained his decision. “I don’t want Ira, and Sandy to hear this. Mr. Drummond, I can’t tell these colored boys apart.” Drummond ended it right there and sent Dippy back into the game. It would be easy to fault Frank Drummond. Up to that point in his life, he didn’t think the colored were as smart as the whites. Dippy had pulled one over on him. It was so cleverly done. The future of basketball acted totally sincere when he said it. Both races had an expression in common. We all looked alike to the ones on the other side of the racial divide. Today, the Chinese say the same thing about their American and European visitors. When Dippy played at Overbrook, a Philadelphia sportswriter changed his name. He took Dippy’s first name, Wilton and re-named him, Wilt the Stilt. I didn’t like it. He wasn’t a stilt. He made himself into an incredible athlete. In track, he ran the half-mile, and threw the shot-put. I saw Wilt on future occasions from high up in the stands. I won’t comment on his 10,000 women book. That book cost him advertising dollars. He did take the time in 1997 to write a handwritten letter to a former West Catholic basketball player dying of cancer. It makes up for “White boy, you stink.” His compassion touched me. I found the letter in a memoir titled, THE WAR WITHIN by Gerald J. St. John. Ira Davis went to La Salle switched to track, represented the U.S. in three Olympics and had a distinguished coaching and business career.
Francis M. Mulligan, Esquire 4 | Berks Barrister
TECHNOLOGY FRANKLY SPEAKING
How to Search Like a Pro By Jeffrey A. Franklin, Esquire
When you want to find something on the Web do you think “search engine” or do you think “Google”? Today, most of us reflexively go to Google without much thought. But a little thought beforehand can make you more effective at searching.
A. Search Engines v. Directory Sites
A search result from a search engine is specific to the search request such as word choices in your search request and sometimes other information such as your location or prior search requests. Directories provide a grouping of websites by category and sub-category. Directories are available as a general web directory or, more often, they are specific to a subject. For example, www. Findlaw.com, is a popular legal directory. Both search engines and directories are powerful tools for you to consider depending on the information you know and the information you seek. Practice Tip: For subject matters with which I have little familiarity, a directory service that caters to that specialty area often advances my search better than my blind Googling. Search Engine Sites of Interest: www.thesearchenginelist.com www.google.com www.bing.com www.yahoo.com www.ask.com www.zuula.com www.lycos.com www.dogpile.com www.duckduckgo.com
Directory Sites of Interest: www.thesearchenginelist.com/directory.html www.findlaw.com www.law.cornell.edu www.lawsource.com/also www.hg.org www.search.yahoo.com/dir www.about.com
B. How do Search Engines Work?
Search engines are computer programs that send out automated bots or spiders that crawl through the Web indexing words and information. When you type in your search, the search engine’s algorithms list the most popular or most responsive sites. The indexes are updated periodically and your search may return new results the next time it is run based on these updates. Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) is used to move sites towards the front of the results pack. SEO can also be used to instruct the search engines to skip websites or to provide more specific meta data. Search engines will generally offer search results based on alternate spellings of words. This can help when you’re not clear on the spelling of a word or accidentally misspell a word in your search. Search engines and their algorithms are very complex and differ from engine to engine as well as over time, resulting in different results based on your engine of choice. One advantage to using different search engines is that you will receive a variety of results. Continued on page 6
Berks Barrister | 5
How to Search Like a Pro Continued from page 5
C. Learn Boolean Logic to Implement Search Strategies
Boolean logic is based on three function operators, “And”, “Or” and “Not”. When using Boolean search operators, we often add “Near”. One operator you probably already use is quotation marks. When you enter your search terms enclosed in quotation marks you are telling the search engine that this is a phrase and you would like it searched in exactly this way, such as “jury duty”. Using “And” in your search will return results that include both words, jury AND duty. The “And” operator is the default status of most search engines including Google and the system will assume the “And” unless you distinguish it as otherwise, jury duty is the same search as jury and duty. Using the “Or” operator in your search will return the entire universe of results containing either word, jury OR duty. Using the “Not” operator will identify results that specifically eliminate one word or phrase, jury NOT duty. Popular search engines are not necessarily all set up for Boolean searches and you may need to pursue the particulars for where you are searching. For instance, when searching on Google, in order to exclude a word you should put a dash (-) or minus sign before the word you want to eliminate. Otherwise it will bring you results including the word NOT. Using the operator “Near” without specifying the number of words acceptable for the distance between two words will generally return results within sixteen words of each other in the document, jury NEAR duty. Google does not like this operator. When using Boolean search methods for multiple word searches, parentheses will require that the enclosed group will be searched first, as in mathematics, (jury NEAR duty) AND Texas. This search requires that duty be within sixteen words of jury and that Texas be included anywhere else within the document.
D. Punctuation & Symbols that Google Search Recognizes Even though the symbols below are supported, including them in your searches doesn’t always improve the results. If Google doesn’t think the punctuation will give you better results, you may see suggested results for that search without punctuation. Practice Tip: When you search using symbols, don’t add any spaces between the symbol and your search terms. For example, a search for -dogs will work, but - dogs will not.
6 | Berks Barrister
What you can use it for
+ Search for Google+ pages or blood types Examples: +Chrome and AB+ @ Find social tags Example: @agoogler $ Find prices Example: nikon $400 # Find popular hashtags for trending topics Example: #throwbackthursday - Remove words
When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes results that include that word or site. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.
Examples: jaguar speed -car and pandas -site:wikipedia.org Connect words When the dash is in between multiple words, Google will know the words are strongly connected. Example: twelve-year-old dog _ Connect two words like quick_sort. Your search results will find this pair of words either linked together (quicksort) or connected by an underscore (quick_sort). “ When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as what’s inside the quotes. Note: Only use this if you’re looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you’ll exclude many helpful results by mistake. Example: “imagine all the people” *
Add an asterisk within a search as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. Use with quotation marks to find variations of that exact phrase or to remember words in the middle of a phrase. Example: “a * saved is a * earned”
.. Separate numbers by two periods without spaces (..) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and measurements. Example: camera $50..$100 Use search operators like those discussed above to narrow down results. Like with symbols, don’t add any spaces between the operator and your search terms.
What you can use it for
site: Get results from certain sites or domains. For example, you can find all mentions of “olympics” on the NBC website, or any .gov websites. Examples: olympics site:nbc.com and olympics site:.gov link: Find pages that link to a certain page. For example, you can find all the pages that link to google.com. Example: link:google.com related: Find sites that are similar to a URL you already know. If you search for related sites to the time.com, you’ll find other news publication sites you may be interested in. Example: related:time.com OR If you want to search for pages that may have just one of several words, include OR (capitalized) between the words. Without the OR, your results would typically show only pages that match both terms. Example: world cup location 2014 OR 2018 info: Get information about a URL, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site. Example: info:google.com cache: See what a page looks like the last time Google crawled the site. Example: cache:washington.edu Is this overwhelming? Try http://www.google.com/ advanced_search to make advanced searching on Google easy!
E. Which Search Engines are Best?
The best search engine is the one that gets you access to the answers you need. Search engines can be ranked by popularity and you are undoubtedly familiar with the top five, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL. These are all general search engines that index and provide results throughout the World Wide Web. If you’re looking for answers to legal research, these may not be the “Best”, only the most popular. They can be a good place to start refining your search. Using advanced search features can help you get the most relevant results from the popular search engines. Advanced search options can help you limit where the search engine is looking for information which can help narrow search results. Expanded Boolean search operators can be used within the advanced search options to help Continued on page 8
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How to Search Like a Pro Continued from page 7 narrow the search parameters and produce better results. In this way, any search engine can become the best based on your search parameters.
F. A Closer Look at Google and Specialty Search Engines
Google is a search engine. While the company may want you to think that it’s the only one, that isn’t the case. Even within the world of Google there are choices. The main Google search (www.google.com) is a very effective tool, however, when you are looking for research materials Google Scholar (www.scholar.google.com) will bring more defined results. When looking for a location you may want to use Google Maps (www.maps.google.com). To find a book resource try Google Books (www.books.google.com). Google Patent will search the full text of U.S. Patents (www.google. com/patents). Ask (www.ask.com) is designed for native language searches based on questions you may need answered rather than Boolean search operators. Bing (www.bing.com) is the Microsoft search engine which functions similarly to Google and Duck Duck Go (www.duckduckgo.com) does searches without tracking and works well on the dark net via TOR. There are many search engines out there that you’ll want to try rather than sticking to one all the time. As the search engine learns your preferences and search patterns, it may exclude content that it doesn’t “think” will appeal to you; however, it may be just what you need for your next case. Consider which search engine may be best suited for your task and then work on the best search terms and connectors to get the most useful results. If you’re looking for people, try Pipl (www.pipl.com) this site will bring you more social media hits and links to others in their circle.
G. Learn Browser Tricks - the Power of the “Find” Function
Using tricks or shortcuts to get to information will help reduce your search time. When you submit a search and your engine brings up long lists, you can use the find function (Ctrl + F) within the search to help narrow your focus. The find function can also be used within a web page. So click on what looks like it might be right and then use the find function within the document to help you get right to it. When you’re at the bottom of the page and want to leap back to the search box use Alt + D to jump back to the URL box. Many of the shortcuts we use in word processing are also accessible in your browser such as copy and paste
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(Ctrl + C; Ctrl + V). When you need to jump to the top or bottom of a page home and end (Ctrl + Home; Ctrl + End) functions work the same way they do in your word processing file. Switching from Windows application screen to application screen you can move between your browser and other applications (Alt + Tab). I find these shortcuts handy and hope you find them useful as well.
H. Managing Bookmarks
Bookmarks save searches by description and URL and allow you to get to a searched location with a click or two in the future. There are many ways to organize your bookmarks. You may want to organize by client, by search type, by agency, or by category. Bookmarks are easily tailored to your specific needs. One method that I find successful is bookmarking by topic and the county, state and federal courts before which I practice in separate folders. Additionally, a bookmark folder of state agencies and several for different types of research makes it easier. In most browsers, you can right-click on a website and the option will drop down for you to bookmark the page. This will open your bookmark manager and allow you to start a folder or add this to an existing folder. Another way to add an active URL into your bookmarks folder is to use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl + D.
I hope this background information and specific practice tips assist you in conducting more effective legal and personal research. Mr. Franklin, chair of the Berks County Bar Association’s Technology Committee, practices law with the Prince Law Group, P.C. and is a principal of Brightline Tech Solutions, LLC.
STUDENT LOANS – OPTIONS AND STRATEGIES By George M. Lutz, Esquire Few topics in the area of consumer law have generated as much publicity recently as that of student loans. We are informed on a regular basis that there is a student loan “crisis,” and that the next financial “bubble” will be the collapse of the student loan marketplace arising from massive defaults. Wellpublicized protests by graduates (or non-graduates) saddled with student loan debt attract significant media attention. Meanwhile, the student loan burden continues to rise. In 2010, student loan debt passed $1 trillion, and it now exceeds Americans’ credit card debt. Forbes magazine’s August 7, 2013 headline summarizes the concern: “How the $1.2 Trillion College Debt Crisis Is Crippling Students, Parents and the Economy.” Other studies suggest that the problem may be overstated. According to a Brookings Institution analysis of Federal Reserve Board data, the rising debt load has been accompanied by 1) generally rising present income levels of borrowers and 2) the attainment of more advanced degrees that allow graduates to earn more as they advance in their careers. The Brookings study’s findings are summarized here: First, we find that roughly one-quarter of the increase in student debt since 1989 can be directly attributed to Americans obtaining more education, especially graduate degrees. The average debt levels of borrowers with a graduate degree more than quadrupled, from just under $10,000 to more than $40,000. By comparison, the debt loads of those with only a bachelor’s degree increased by a smaller margin, from $6,000 to $16,000. Second, the Survey of Consumer Finances data strongly suggest that increases in the average lifetime incomes of college-educated Americans have more than kept pace with increases in debt loads. Between 1992 and 2010, the average household with student debt saw in increase of about $7,400 in annual income and $18,000 in total debt. In other words, the increase in earnings received over the course of 2.4 years would pay for the increase in debt incurred. Third, the monthly payment burden faced by student loan borrowers has stayed about the same or even lessened over the past two decades. The median borrower has consistently spent three to four percent of their monthly income on student loan payments since 1992, and the mean payment-to-income
ratio has fallen significantly, from 15 to 7 percent. The average repayment term for student loans increased over this period, allowing borrowers to shoulder increased debt loads without larger monthly payments. (http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/ reports/2014/06/24%20student%20loan%20crisis%20 akers%20chingos/is%20a%20student%20loan%20crisis%20 on%20the%20horizon) However, what is clear is that as economists and politicians debate whether there is a crisis, and if so, how to deal with it, there remain many individuals for whom the averages and medians are meaningless – they have a crushing amount of student loan debt, and they need legal guidance regarding their options. These are the individuals at the forward tail of the economists’ bell curves – their student debt load is significantly above average, and their income will not allow them to service the debt in a meaningful matter. Anecdotally, bankruptcy attorneys will tell you that there are a LOT of these situations. The goal of this article is to give a very broad overview of the options available to assist clients facing this challenge.
The Standard Paradigm Typically, students enter college, graduate school, or trade school without significant income of their own to pay for it; after all, that’s the primary reason that they’re getting the education – to enhance their income producing prospects. Unless they are fortunate enough to be the children of parents with the means to pay for their education, or prudent enough to have saved for it, they need to borrow to close the gap between costs of attendance and the grants or scholarships they receive. Enter the lenders – private and governmental. For private lenders, of course, the incentive is profit driven. For the state and federal governments, the nominal incentive is to develop a more educated, more highly trained populace, which will use the education and training received to generate the income required to repay the loans. Sometimes – many times – it doesn’t work out that way. Regardless of the economic, political and even moral questions that unmanageable student loan debt load presents, lawyers need Continued on page 10
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Student Loans — Options and Strategies Continued from page 9 to know how to counsel clients who present themselves with these issues.
Federal Loans vs. Private Loans; Types of Loans; Assumptions This article focuses primarily on federal student loans. Private student loans are discussed, briefly, below. Unless specified, references to “student loans” means “federal student loans.” Also, there are many types of student loans: Stafford, Perkins, FFEL, PLUS, etc. Each type comes with its own assumptions, restrictions, options, and requirements, and a discussion of the differences is beyond the scope of this article. The statements made in this article have many qualifications, caveats, and exceptions, but those qualifiers are not discussed at length here.
Repayment Options Repayment options for federal student loans can be divided into two broad categories: 1) Payment options where you actually pay the loan off (balance based repayment options) and 2) payment options where the loan is not paid off, but rather, a portion is discharged (income based repayment options).
Balance Based Repayment Options Assume that your client has attended college on the standard four year plan, and has borrowed $25,000 per year to close the cost of attendance gap. For simplification, assume that the $25,000 per year was disbursed at the beginning of each school year. 6.8% annual interest typically runs on federal student loans, but with the interest being paid by the federal government until it is time to start repayment of the loan (a “subsidized” loan), the client will graduate with about $100,000 of student loan debt. After graduation (more accurately, after separation from the school, which can mean graduation, dropping out, enrolling less than half time, etc.), there is typically a six month grace period, after which repayment starts. At the start of the repayment period, the borrower has several options. If she doesn’t make a choice, she is placed by default in the standard repayment option -- a ten year amortization of the loan. Again, assuming that the debt load is $100,000 at the start of repayment, with a 6.8% interest rate, the standard ten year option requires a monthly payment of $1,151. To earn that $1,151 of after tax income, the borrower will need to earn perhaps $1,400 per month, or $16,800 per year, of gross income. On top of all other living expenses, this is not manageable for a significant number of borrowers, but the problem is much worse for a lot of individuals – many undergraduate and graduate degree holders, including a lot of newly minted attorneys, have well over $100,000 of debt. (The author once represented an individual who had unsuccessfully
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attempted to earn a degree in dentistry. He ended up with over $400,000 of student loan debt between his undergraduate education and two failed attempts to complete dental school.) If the standard balance based payment option is out of reach for the borrower, the following alternate balance based payment options are available:
This plan starts with a lower monthly payment, and steps up every two years. The total term is 10 years.
This plan has even monthly payments over a 25 year repayment term.
Extended Graduate Repayment
This plan has a 25 year term, starts with a lower payment, and steps up every two years. The following table lists the monthly payment (or, in the case of the graduated or extend graduated repayment plans, the initial monthly payment) of our client with $100,000 of student loan debt: Payment Plan Monthly, or initial monthly, payment 10 year standard $1,046 Graduated $590 (the initial monthly payment) Extended $567 Extended Graduated $392 (the initial monthly payment)
Discharge Options Suppose the client cannot afford one of these balance based payment options. What are the alternatives? First, you need to review the client’s situation to see if she can obtain a discharge of the loan because of her circumstances. The discharges available include the following:
Total and Permanent Disability If a borrower is determined to be totally and permanently disabled, the debt can be discharged, with an important caveat, discussed below. There are three ways to show total and permanent disability. These are explained at www.disabilitydischarge.com: 1 – If you are a veteran, you can submit documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability; 2 – If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can submit a Social Security Administration (SSA) notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within 5 to 7 years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination; or
3 – You can submit certification from a physician that you are totally and permanently disabled. Your physician must certify that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that: • Can be expected to result in death; • Has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or • Can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months. And now the caveat: Note that although a finding of total and permanent disability can result in a loan discharge, the discharge itself is not necessarily permanent. The Department of Education has the right to review the borrower’s status every three years. If the condition that gave rise to the initial determination has not persisted, i.e., if the borrower would not, at the three year or subsequent review, qualify for a total and permanent disability determination, the loan could be reinstated.
School Related Discharge If the borrower took out the loan to attend a school that closed, and if the borrower 1) was either enrolled at the school at the time of closure, or had withdrawn within 120 days of closure, and 2) had not graduated from that school, and 3) earned credits at the school that were not transferable elsewhere, then the borrower can apply for a school related discharge.
of certain qualified subjects (math, science, an special education) in an “eligible” school. The eligibility of the school is determined by its free-lunch data. For teachers that do not teach those subjects, the loan forgiveness is capped at $5,000.
Income Base Repayment Options Suppose that your borrower/client cannot afford a standard repayment plan, and does not qualify for discharge or forgiveness. She then needs to consider one of the Income Based Repayment Options: Income Based Repayment, Income Contingent Repayment, or Pay as You Earn. The Income Based Repayment Options are a matter of survival – they are resorted to when standard approaches fail, but they can be a very effective way of dealing with a crushing student loan debt. A discussion of the details of each is beyond the scope of this article, but a look at the Income Based Repayment will give you the idea. The Income Based Repayment (IBR) option calculates a monthly payment that has nothing to do with what is owed. First, the borrower’s Adjusted Gross Income is determined, usually from the last federal income tax return filed by the borrower. Then, subtract from that figure 150% of the federal poverty level for the borrower’s family size. The resulting figure,
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Forgiveness Options There are several types of loan forgiveness options, both of which are in place to further certain public policies. The two most significant are:
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Public Service Loan Forgiveness provides a tax free discharge of federal student loans if: 1. The borrower works for a “qualified employer” – either a 501(c)(3) organization or a local, state or federal government, 2. On a full time basis (Full time is defined as 30 hours per week), 3. While making 120 payments on the loan (i.e., for a ten year period). Each of the payments must be the payment that would be required under the standard (see above), Income Based Repayment plan (see below) or the Income Contingent Repayment Plan (see below). (Astute readers will notice that if the payments being made are in accordance with the ten-year standard repayment option, then forgiveness will not be necessary in 120 months, because the loan will have been repaid. Nevertheless, that is how the regulations read.)
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Student Loans — Options and Strategies Continued from page 11 which is assumed to be the borrower’s “discretionary income,” is multiplied by 15%, and then divided by 12 to determine the monthly payment. The borrower pays that amount for 25 years, and the remaining balance at that time (often higher than when she entered the IBR plan, because of negative amortization) is discharged. A couple of points about this program should be noted. First, you will see that nowhere in the calculation is the amount owed on the loan a factor. I.e., it is not a balance based repayment option, but rather an income based repayment option. Second, the formula accounts for the borrower’s family size, and therefore, roughly takes into account the borrower’s other expenses. The balance based payment options do not. Turning now to our borrower with $100,000 in debt, recall that her monthly repayment under the standard ten year repayment plan is $1,046. Even under the extended graduated plan, her monthly payment is $392, and will get much higher later. Under IBR, assuming her income is $50,000 per year, and she has a household of 3, her monthly payment is $254. With a household of 4, her monthly payment is $178. Finally, assume an all too typical situation: The borrower is not employed, or is employed and makes less than 150% of the poverty level. Applying the IBR formula gives a monthly payment of zero, and that actually is the payment – under Income Based Repayment, some borrowers have no monthly payments. The Income Based Repayment program begs two questions: First, if the borrower is not going to repay the loan, who does? Second, is there a tax consequence to the debt forgiven after 25 years? The answer to the first question (Who repays the loan?) is: We all do. The federal government extended taxpayer funds to finance an individual’s education. If those funds are not repaid by the borrower, then they ultimately are a subtraction from the public fisc. Like all public expenditures, the politics, public policy, and even morality of such a program will no doubt be subject to extensive debate as the student loan crisis develops. The answer to the second question (What are the tax consequences of discharge?) is: We don’t know yet. The Income Based Repayment Option became effective on July 1, 2009, so it will be quite some time before the first 25 year discharge date is upon us. Prevailing thinking is that Congress will carve out an exception to the Cancellation of Debt income consequence. If not, then the borrower may have to survive for three years after cancellation and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to render the tax dischargeable, or simply live with the tax obligation. In addition to the Income Based Repayment Option, the borrower needs to review the Income Contingent Repayment option and the Pay as You Earn option. These programs have different qualifications, calculations and time periods than the Income Based Repayment Option, and cannot be covered here.
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Collection of Student Loans When discussing the collection of student loans, a distinction between private student loans and federal student loans is necessary. Private student loans are no different than any other type of loans, with one important exception – they are not dischargeable, except in very limited circumstances, in a bankruptcy. With that caveat, the collection of private student loans is subject to the same limits as the collection of any private loan: They are subject to the statute of limitations, and if a judgment is obtained, execution on the judgment can be resisted using the applicable state law. For example, a borrower’s wages cannot be garnished (in Pennsylvania), Social Security benefits cannot be attached, and tax refunds cannot be intercepted. The collection of federal student loans is not subject to the same limits. There is no statute of limitations, wages can be garnished (even without a judgment) and certain Social Security Disability payments (but not Social Security Income payments) can be offset. In addition, the federal government has the right to intercept the borrower’s tax refund. There are administrative procedures in place to provide the borrower with her due process rights when the federal government enforces collection. For example, a notice of intent to offset a tax refund, or a notice of intent to impose an administrative wage garnishment, gives the borrower the opportunity to oppose that action. Again, this is a complex area and this article’s space limitations do not allow a discussion of those procedures.
Bankruptcy The use of a bankruptcy proceeding when faced with student loan debt is limited, but I will mention three strategies that need to be considered.
Discharge Discharge of student loans in bankruptcy is very difficult. Only if “undue hardship” is shown can a student loan be discharged. 11 USC 523(a)(8). When assessing whether undue hardship exists, many courts, including those in the 3rd Circuit, apply the Brunner test. In Brunner vs. New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, 831 F.2d 395 (2nd Cir. 1987), the 2nd Circuit articulated a three part test to determine whether undue hardship exists. The Brunner test requires that the bankruptcy Debtor: 1. Prove that she has made good faith efforts to repay her student loans; 2. Prove that she cannot maintain, based on current income and expenses, a “minimal” standard of living for herself and her dependents if she were to pay the student loans; and 3. Prove that this state of affairs is likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the loans.
Ironically, the implementation of the Income Based Repayment Option makes it increasingly difficult to prove the second prong of the Brunner test. After all, if in an Income Based Repayment plan the borrower’s required payment is zero, it is hard to argue that repayment of the student loan will deprive the borrower of a minimal standard of living.
Elimination of Other Debt If a potential client has, in addition to student loans, other significant debt such as credit cards or medical bills, then a bankruptcy will discharge the non-student loan debt, which will hopefully better enable the client to service the surviving student loan debt post-bankruptcy.
A “Shelter in Place” Chapter 13 Bankruptcy On rare occasions (rare because of the existence of the Income Based Repayment Option), a client cannot handle any student loan repayment. In that case, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be appropriate. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires that the client/Debtor pay her disposable income to the Chapter 13 Trustee for a three to five year period. That disposable income could be minimal -- $100 or even lower per month. While in the bankruptcy, student loans are subject to the Automatic Bankruptcy Stay like most other debts, and student loan lenders cannot initiate or continue collection actions. Unfortunately, because student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy,
when the Debtor emerges from the Chapter 13, she will still owe the student loan. In fact, she will probably have a higher student loan debt than when she entered bankruptcy, because interest continues to run on the loans while the Debtor is in the bankruptcy proceeding. So, a “shelter in place” Chapter 13 bankruptcy is resorted to as a matter of short term survival – it is not an effective way to resolve the student loan debt in the long run.
Summary With student loans supplanting credit cards as the 2nd largest category of consumer debt (behind mortgages), an increasing number of individuals will be seeking legal advice regarding how to deal with these loans. A thorough understanding of the various options available is necessary to properly represent these individuals. In this article, I have attempted to give a broad overview of the available options, but as I have stated, the details of the various options, strategies and tactics are too numerous for a general article. For practitioners who want to learn more about the topic, a good place to begin is the U.S. Department of Education, which has a wealth of resources. Go to https://studentloans.gov/ myDirectLoan/index.action and click “Managing Repayment” to get started.
Mr. Lutz is a principal in the Wyomissing law firm of Case, DiGiamberardino & Lutz, P.C.
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Berks Barrister | 13
LEGAL SPIRITS HAPPY HOUR On February 5 members enjoyed a respite from the winter with the added feature of a craft beer tasting. Just what the winter doldrums required.
Eric Taylor Linda Faye Epes and Past President Fred Mogel
James Mancuso and Kevin Feeney
Julie Marburger and Mike Cammarano
Mark Merolla and Kevin Musheno
Scott Hoh and Dan Degler
Chef and Bartender Joe supervising the craft beer tasting
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Victor Frederick and Kurt Geishauser
John Bucolo and Dan Emkey Elizabeth Ware and Julie Ravis
Federal Judge Jeffrey Schmehl and Jim Polyak
Jim Smith and Susan Frankowski
Jonathan Kurland and Jacquelin Hamer
Jacob Gurwitz and YLS President Thad Gelsinger
FOR SALE Legal Classics Library 215 leather bound classic law books by Gryphon Editions.
• Each book is a work of art. • Collection is complete and up to date. • Perfect condition. • New books are added periodically. [bibliography upon request] Terry L. Parish, Esquire (610) 378-0121 firstname.lastname@example.org Berks Barrister | 15
Book Review “Empire Of Sin -
A Story Of Sex, Jazz, Murder And The Battle For Modern New Orleans
By GARY KRIST Reviewed by Frederick K. Hatt, Esquire
Like its title, Gary Krist’s book, Empire of Sin - A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for Modern New Orleans, tries to broadly capture twenty years, 1897 1917, in the history of America’s “Land of Dreams,” New Orleans, Louisiana. These two decades begin with the creation, by City Ordinance in 1897, of a “Red-Light District,” which came to be known as “Storyville”, referring to the Ordinance’s proponent, Alderman Sidney Story. The period ends with the closure of Storyville in 1917, in large part due to the Federal Selective Service Act of 1917, Section 13, which prohibited prostitution within ten miles of a military encampment, and set criminal penalties of $1,000.00 or twelve months in jail for anyone guilty of selling alcohol to a soldier. The book draws on a mountain of newspaper stories from the newspapers of the day, scores of prior books and scholarly papers written on the period, and access to all of the major New Orleans and Louisiana Historical Archives. Krist gives the reader a taste of the politics, social mores, ethnic and racial relations, criminal justice system, and music of turn of the century New Orleans. The book does not stop there, however, with the bibliography being a five star restaurant guide to the best books ever written on early twentieth
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century New Orleans history, and on early jazz musicians. The book is worth a read by practitioners of municipal law, family law, estate law, criminal law, and lawyers pursuing a certification in jazzology. For municipal lawyers there is the chronicling of the ordinances of 1897 passed by the Council of the City of New Orleans, which provided: “It shall be unlawful for any public prostitute or woman notoriously abandoned to lewdness to occupy, inhabit, live, or sleep in any house, room, or closet situate without the following limits….” Intended by well-to-do reformers as a way to insulate and regulate all vices in one small area of the city, outside their own neighborhoods, it ultimately had the effect of creating a “safe from prosecution” zone for prostitution in an area consisting of approximately eighteen city blocks. When the second Ordinance went into force, George L’Hote brought an action in the Civil District Court for the Parish of New Orleans against the City, seeking an injunction. He argued that the principal way to come and go from his property forced him to pass through Storyville, and that the ordinances were unconstitutional and would deprive him of
his property without due process. He also argued that creating Storyville adjacent to his property was a taking or damage to the property without just and adequate compensation. The Civil District Court decided in favor of Mr. L’Hote, however, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed and dissolved the injunction. Appeal was taken to the United States Supreme Court. L’Hote vs. New Orleans, 177 U.S. 587 (1900). The United States Supreme Court held in favor of the City and affirmed the Louisiana Supreme Court, thereby upholding the ordinances. In so doing the Court noted: “We premise by saying that one of the difficult social problems of the day is what shall be done in respect to those vocations which minister to and feed upon human weaknesses, appetites, and passions. The management of those vocations comes directly within the scope of what is known as the police power… reserved to the states….” Id. p596. As to the argument that the Ordinance resulted in a taking or damage to the Plaintiff ’s personal property, the Supreme Court went on to note that: “The truth is that the exercise of the police power often works pecuniary injury, but the settled rule of this Court is that the mere fact of pecuniary injury does not warrant the overthrow of legislation of a police character.” Id. p598.
Family and estate practice lawyers will find interesting the profiles provided in the book of the Storyville legends like Tom Anderson and Josie Arlington. After the United States Supreme Court Decision, the entrepreneurs of Storyville created incredibly appointed “houses of entertainment.” Tom Anderson owned the largest and most profitable collections of bars, dance halls, and cafes. He was also a state legislator who was successful in protecting Storyville’s interests for almost twenty years. Josie Arlington ran the most “refined and complete sporting house” in the District. The enterprises of the two sometimes overlapped. The lives they lived tested the law in determining issues like marital status and the rights of inheritance under the Civil Code of Louisiana. For those lawyers involved in criminal justice, Krist documents an era of murders and lawlessness throughout the City that preceded and continued during the Storyville decades. In particular, the book explores the influences of the mafia or Black Hand, within the city’s Italian neighborhoods. Krist also theorizes about the identity of the infamous Ax Murderer who terrorized the city from 1918 to 1919. For the jazz practitioners, Krist’s chapters weave into them glimpses of the community of first generation jazz musicians in New Orleans. He also follows some musicians who traveled to Chicago and went on the road, with the closure of Storyville and the rigid enforcement of Jim Crow segregation laws. Krist is careful not to say that jazz was born in Storyville. He acknowledges the brass bands and orchestras that were improvising at the Parks on South Carrollton Ave, picnics at the Lake, social club street parades throughout the City, and at home. Storyville did not create jazz, but it gave musicians a wealth of jobs that paid “good money”. Krist observes that the reformers who initially fought to set up Storyville, soon wanted it shut down, along with the jazz music being played there. Commenting on jazz, the Times-Picayune on June 17, 1917, called for the City to distance itself from jazz, noting, “…Where it has crept in, we should make it a point of honor to suppress it. Its musical value is nil, and its possibilities of harm are great.” And shut down it was. With pressure from the Secretary of the Navy, City Council passed an ordinance requiring that the Storyville District be shut down, effective midnight November 12, 1917. Louis Armstrong was there, on the night of November 12, to witness the “exodus”. He later commented, “It sure was a sad scene to watch the law run all those people out of Storyville. They reminded me of refugees.” Ironically, Krist notes that in the years that followed, when New Orleans had failed to attract business and industry as had some other southern cities, the heirs of the reformers, who now controlled the City, turned to tourism to help the City’s economy. In turning to tourism they embraced what had previously been an embarrassment to their families, jazz and a rundown five block by ten block area of old New Orleans known as the French Quarter. The Quarter was just across Rampart Street from the historic location of Storyville, with buildings that had not changed much since the City was a Spanish territory. At the heart of the Quarter
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was to be an Entertainment District, Bourbon Street, designed to attract travelers who wanted to see and do things they could not do back home. Krist leaves the reader draw the analogy between Bourbon Street and Storyville. He also leaves it to the reader to sort out the question of who are the real sinners and who are the real Saints throughout twentieth century New Orleans. New Orleans has always had its sinners, but many of them, since the days of Jean Lafitte, have doubled as Saints, too. Many a pirate has redeemed themselves by helping save the City of New Orleans from the British, Mother Nature, or itself. Until you have experienced New Orleans, no explanation or answer to Krist’s question is possible. Someday you need to walk the stone sidewalks of New Orleans, through the crowds and “Live Entertainment” of Bourbon Street, onto St. Peter Street in search of the jazz music coming out of the Preservation Hall carriageway, along the artists’ easels setup in the streetlight lit Jackson Square, and into the incense and quiet of the great St. Louis Cathedral, and then decide for yourself if the judgment on Saints and sinners, might best be deferred indefinitely, pending action by the Divine. Mr. Hatt, a past president of the Berks County Bar Association, is a solo practitioner in Wyomissing. After college and before law school, he lived and worked for several years in the magical city of New Orleans.
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Spotlight on New Members By Donald F. Smith, Jr., Esquire
Sean D. Curran has begun the firm of Curran Estate Law, exclusively focused on estate and elder law. A 1988 graduate of Tulane University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Sean’s law degree was earned at the Dickinson School of Law, graduating in 1991. He lives in Wyomissing with his wife, Georgina, and their four children: Patrick, 17; Lucy, 15; Molly, 11; and Jack, 9. Sean enjoys travelling, golfing, mountain biking and being with his family.
SEAN D. CURRAN
Joining her husband in the new firm of Bentley Gibson Kopecki Smith, P. C., is Anne Gibson. She is practicing family law and criminal defense. Her undergraduate and law degrees are both from the University of Pittsburgh. Anne previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Dennis E. Reinaker of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas and as a Lancaster County Assistant Public Defender. She and Eric are the parents of a 15-month-old daughter, Regan. Anne’s hobby is playing soccer. John Tabler is an associate in the general practice of law at Lau & Associates, P. C. Before attending college John was a member of the deck crew aboard the Str. Belle of Louisville. While working as a legal assistant, he studied at University of Louisville, earning a degree in history. After college, John was a Medicare MAXIMUS Appeals Specialist for Humana Insurance in Louisville. He then earned his law degree at Widener in Harrisburg. Along the way, he has also been a cabbie, a bartender and a bouncer. John describes his hobbies as a published fiction author, fisherman, reader of good books and watcher of bad movies, theme park enthusiast and target shooter. He is married to Desiree, and their children are Sophia and twins Margaret and Henry.
DARAL A. WOERLE
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Daniel P. Troy is an Assistant District Attorney. A graduate of Temple University and the Widener University School of Law, he is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. His hobbies include being a lifelong student of American history—reading biographies and visiting a new historical site—but also running in various 5Ks and races throughout the year with his girlfriend. He previously worked as a GED teacher at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County. During law school he was a certified legal intern with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, and afterwards practiced personal injury law with Aivazoglou & Mikropolous, LLC in Delaware County. A Penn Stater, Daral A. Woerle, is president of Pinnacle—PM, LLC, providing project management consulting services to business and legal professionals nationwide. He is also practicing law in the areas of estate administration and planning, business law and start-up as well as real estate. Daral has been an army officer on active duty for eight years, practicing law for nineteen years, management consultant and trainer for the past eighteen years. He most recently completed major projects for the Office of Legal Affairs at the United Nations in New York City. With his wife, Kimberly Moore-Woerle, they have two daughters, Samantha and Emma. Daral is a graduate of the Capital Law School.
DANIEL P. TROY
Redemption By William W. Runyeon, Esquire If the savage killer may be redeemed, may not also the angelic saint be damned, depending upon what each has been up to, lately? We have profound and convincing histories of redemption, yet not so much on damnation. Which is probably a good thing, as such histories belong underground, or never written. Which reminds me; apparently the Bible says nothing of hell, suggesting the whole idea is manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creation. What then of Heaven? Inspired writing may carry us across the threshold of belief, but it does not help with behavior long held contrary to the word of God. We cannot sustain life as a private heaven or hell; we have a world to live in, others to consider, an element of respect for Creation to cultivate; and if the dragon of the world and the tendencies of the mind of man offer horrendous depravity, they offer also potential to overcome these things in a respect for Creation as the threshold of Heaven, that flows sweetly back as self respect; savage beasts, take flight.
Berks Barrister | 19
Members and their guests enjoyed a reception and dinner in the Batdorf Room and Kittrell Suite prior to attending the Berks Jazz Festâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Opening Concert featuring Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Quite a night! Jim and Lori Lillis
Setting the mood Dan Huyett and Al Crump
Enjoying food and fellowship in the Batdorf Room Pat and Paula Barrett
Mike Monsour and his wife, Julia Smith
BCBA Secretary Lisa and Woody Siciliano with Stephanie and Doug Rauch
Mr. and Mrs. John Hibschman
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Small Plates Pack
Big Flavor By Susan N. Denaro, Esquire
Small Plates. Food trends. Jet lag. What these six single-syllable words have in common is a recent discovery of ours. We spent Spring break in Spain where we were properly introduced to its traditional tapas. Over there, where the concept was originated, tapas became our almost nightly ritual of indulging (without over-indulging) and transcended any prior tapas experience in the States. Shortly after returning home, I found myself missing the newly discovered flavors of Spain. During my third sleepless night due to jet lag, I stumbled upon a food blog about how America’s prima donna restaurants are starting to turn from a single dinner entree to small plate offerings and it was as though someone understood my appetite for tapas done properly on our shores. The concept is that instead of one plate featuring a $36 hunk of meat, each person shares three $12 plates, thus creating a more communal dining experience. We found that whether we were in a Lateral chain restaurant or a place that has continuously been in business over 100 years, the tapas offerings were very similar. Happily, every place featured Jamón Ibérico, with the pig’s leg mounted on a special holder displayed front and center to entice patrons and make its carving easier (pictured above). This cured ham is from a black-footed pig that feasts on fallen acorns, resulting in a sweet and nutty tasting meat that Anthony Bourdain once aptly labeled “pornographically good”. The leg is sliced paper thin and bite-sized, often served just simply layered on a plate with nothing more. Another traditional way it is served is on crusty bread with melted Manchego cheese nestled between the two items. Eggs also featured heavily in tapas and often these were my preferred items. Typically, this would be a small bowl of
crispy shoestring potatoes topped with a fried egg that the server would cut up with two spoons and stir into the potatoes so that the sun-yellow yolk became like a sauce. Truffles were routinely a part of this dish as well. Another memorable egg dish was a baccala (salt dried cod) and tomato stew topped with a jewel-like quail egg (pictured above). Thankfully, there were no warnings on the menus about the dangers of consuming under-cooked eggs—or if there were— they were in Spanish so we ignored them. The typical fish tapas included white anchovy filets, calamari and small fried whole fish that were served simply with a slice of lemon. The smelts were so mild tasting that you forgot you were popping a whole fish into your mouth at a time. In a country known for its olives, mushrooms and artichokes, they abounded in many simple forms. Fried eggplant and steamed asparagus were also standards. There was nothing remarkable about the preparation of the asparagus offerings but its grassy flavor was always a welcome palate cleanser after some of the other dishes that were flying around our table. My favorite vegetable tapas were paper-thin fried artichoke slices that were like potato chips. Other favorite dishes included a creamy ball of burrata cheese served splayed open with a fresh tomato topping and a thick tomato soup garnished with local olive oil. A plate of fresh artichokes topped with that Ibérico Jamón that just melted on the tongue is also worthy of a mention. Without trying hard, one could eat that ham at EVERY meal, and I suspect some in our party did. Our last night in Barcelona, we placed ourselves into the deft hands of our server at Ciudad Condal, 18 Rambla De Catalunya. After a few questions about our likes and dislikes, he brought us a succession of his favorite tapas. The dishes were choreographed from heavy to light, starting with beautifully cooked beef tenderloin served over crusty bread
topped with a hot pepper and ending with a simple platter of asparagus. We lost count of the plates after the fourth item. The most amazing part of our final meal was that included seven of us eating like royalty, with five of us enjoying seemingly bottomless glasses of the native rojas wine, and a couple of desserts passed around the table, the bill only amounted to €119 which converted to $131. Although the locals typically eat after 9:00 pm, even at the early hour of 7:00 pm, it was the only place we waited for a few minutes for a table. A delightful tourist behind me in line said that she had tried to dine there earlier in the week but the wait was too long for her hungry family. She had heard so much about it, however, that she was determined to wait as long as it took that evening, her last night in Spain—Cuidad does not take reservations. Passing each other on the way out we agreed it was worth the wait. Despite the full capacity crowd, our server gave us excellent attention and there were no missteps during any part of our dining experience. Perhaps this is in part why tapas is starting to become more popular in America. These small plates have to be easier for the kitchen staff to keep flowing and the cross-over of ingredients from one plate to the next has to help reduce both food expense and kitchen waste. The dizzying frenzy of flavors at Cuidad left us sated and sad to leave Barcelona, an unforgettable city where the sunshine bounces off the broken tile creations of Gaudi in such a glorious way that it makes everything seem to sparkle. Looking back, perhaps my difficulty sleeping wasn’t really the jet lag but was Jamón Ibérico withdrawal. One can only hope it will start to find its way into tapas in America. Susan N. Denaro, Esquire, is a principal in the Wyomissing law firm of Rabenold, Koestel, Goodman & Denaro.
Berks Barrister | 21
Receiving the prestigious Thun Award from the Berks County Community Foundation, in partnership with Fulton Bank, were Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim and his wife Louise. “Art and Louise Grim have, together and separately, made an indelible impact on Berks County and the world at large,” said Michele L. Richards, Fulton Bank Senior Vice President, before presenting the award. Among their many contributions, Senior Judge Grim was lauded “for cleaning up the scandal in Luzerne County” and Mrs. Grim for being a co-founder of what has become Berks Women in Crisis.
During its Annual Dinner & Evening of Recognition, the Children’s Home of Reading honored Retired Judge Albert A. Stallone. At a very young age, he was a resident of the Home and later chaired its Board for many years.
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Zachary Morey and dance partner Ann Burkot were the audience favorite in the recent Dancing with the Reading Stars event supporting the Yocum Institute for Arts Education. Zach is with Hoffert & Klonis. Did he learn those moves from his Grandfather?
Deaglan Atticus Taylor was welcomed into the Eric Taylor family on January 14, 2015, joining father Eric, mother Terrie and sister Saoirse. With the middle name Atticus, there can be no doubt that the father is an Assistant Public Defender.
On October 21 Isabella was born to parents Jacob Gurwitz and Jennifer. She joins older sister Gabrielle. Jacob is a principal in the law firm of Feeney & Gurwitz.
In the past year J. William Widing, III, of Kozloff Stoudt, was named chair of the Board of Directors for the Berks County Community Foundation.
March Madness PARTY It is now a Bar Association traditionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the madness begins at the 3rd & Spruce!
Ken Millman and Immediate Past President Tom Bell
Brett Fegely and Michelle Mayfield
Joshua Shoemaker and Carla Arias Harry McMunigal and Federal Judge Jeffrey Schmehl
Ken Kelecic, Jessica Brown, Mike Wieder and Christie Billman
Vice President Kurt Althouse and Eden Bucher
Watching Notre Dame begin its almost successful run Sam Adenaike and Carmen Bloom
Board Director Pete Schuchman and Barry Sawtelle
Dennis Skayhan and Colleen Dugan
Berks Barrister | 23
THE BERKS COUNTY SEAT ON THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT By Robert P. Grim, Esquire
The ascendency of Jeffrey L. Schmehl to the United States Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the latest of only a few Berks Countians to be so honored, is an appropriate time to examine the life and career of the first occupant of what has come to be known as the Berks County “seat” on that federal bench. We of the Berks County Bar Association know of the hard work and determination of our brother Schmehl, as well as his sterling reputation as a jurist, but perhaps few of us can appreciate what it takes to be selected to this lifetime position like the first federal judge from Berks County, Allan K. Grim. Like those who followed him, he happened to be in the right place at the right time. This short biography is a result of a lunch meeting the author had with the late Judge Thomas Golden at the Peanut Bar just two weeks before he died. Judge Golden requested that a historical study be made of Berks County’s lawyers or judges who have been appointed to the federal district court. The author has made inquiries of the families of several of those appointees, but, for instance, the papers of the late Judge Ralph Body, the second Berks Countian appointed to the federal district court, were lost in a flood many years ago, and much research on Judge Body as well as other appointees will have to await the efforts of a more patient and thorough historian. Perhaps this monograph will serve as a first chapter to fulfill Judge Golden’s wish.
The Beginning of the Federal Court in Pennsylvania The Federal District Court was established in Philadelphia for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the first Congress and signed into law by President George Washington on
September 24, 1789. Along with 12 other districts created at the same time from the original 13 colonies, it is the oldest federal trial court in the United States. And, even though Berks County had been in existence since 1753, it would not be for another 160 years from the court’s founding that a Berks County native was appointed to its bench.1 The year was 1949, and the President who nominated him was Harry S Truman.
Allan Grim’s Early Life
Allan Kuhn Grim was born on College Hill in Maxatawny Township, Kutztown, on October 15, 1904, the second child of five of Dr. James S. Grim, the head of the science department for more than 45 years at what is now Kutztown University, and Nettie Kuhn Grim, a graduate of Wilson College and a native of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Allan grew up in a competitive and achieving family. His siblings distinguished themselves in diverse ways: brother, Stewart, the oldest, became the first head of the Bell Telephone Company’s long lines division in New York City, the forerunner of today’s AT&T long distance phone network; younger brother, Marshall, received his graduate degrees from Columbia and from Heidelberg University in Germany in chemistry (taking his courses in German) in the 1930s, became a research chemist, and invented the product detergent, but he died at the age of 46 from cancer while researching a new and unknown substance called asbestos; younger brother, Mark, practiced family medicine for more than 50 years in the Oley Valley, and delivered so many babies in the homes of his patients that the local police always knew to drive him home when he had
William Strong was not, as many believe, the first native Berks Countian to be appointed to a federal court. An associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he was born in Somers, Connecticut, on May 6, 1808. In 1832 after his graduation from Yale Law School, he moved to Reading and practiced law there. In 1857, he was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and left that court to practice in Philadelphia in 1868, and in 1870, he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was not a Berks County native or a resident when appointed to the federal bench. Coincidentally, he had a satellite office as a young lawyer in Kutztown on College Hill in the same building in which Keystone Normal School, now Kutztown University, was later founded in 1866. That home still stands today within view of and barely a block from Judge Grim’s boyhood and later family home (as well as the author’s), across from the present Kutztown University. The Grim home, which today houses several administrative offices for the Kutztown University Foundation, is known as “Maple Manor.”
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yet another one-car accident after returning from yet another lengthy and exhausting baby delivery; and finally, Mark’s twin sister Margaret, who, after winning the Berks County Women’s Singles Tennis Championship in the 1920s, went on to become a beloved secondary school teacher, thespian, church organist, and voice soloist at several churches in Berks and Huntingdon Counties, where she married the head of Juniata College’s music department, Dr. Donald Johnson. Not to be outdone, their father, Dr. James S. Grim was nationally known for his research on the San Jose scale, a fruit and tree pest, and he is generally credited with saving orchard crops across the United States in 1915. Allan followed his own path. After graduating from the Keystone Normal School in 1921 at the age of 16, he went on to Swarthmore College where he not only distinguished himself in the classroom, but played on the lacrosse team and was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity. After college graduation, he taught for two years at Douglas and Weiser Junior High School, now known as Northwestern Junior High School, in Reading. One of his students, Ann Halteman, would later become his secretary in his law practice and then his administrative assistant while he served on the bench.
Allan Becomes a Lawyer and Marries
Having saved some money from his modest teaching salary, Allan set off for Harvard Law School in the Fall of 1926. Graduating in 1929, he passed the Pennsylvania Bar and returned to Berks County, and was admitted to the Bar in September 1929, only a month before the onset of the country’s worst economic calamity. He was invited to join a law firm recently formed on April 12, 1928, by two lawyers, John Stevens and Harry Lee, and whose clients to this day continue to be representative of Berks County’s leading industrial, publishing, and financial concerns. He became one of Stevens & Lee’s first partners along with Charles H. Weidner, Ralph C. Body, and John D. Glase, Jr. Despite working six days a week at Stevens & Lee and commuting daily to Reading on a trolley from his home in Kutztown, he found time to court and eventually marry in June 1937 Ruth S. Ackerman, a school teacher and daughter of the superintendent of schools of Bangor, Northampton County, and who had graduated from Kutztown State Teachers College. They met in Sunday school, much to their parents’ delight. He was 33, and she was 25. At Stevens & Lee, Allan handled much of the trial work and tried many cases in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas, several in which he represented CNA Insurance Company. He also represented the corporate interests of the Reading Eagle Company and Bowers Battery Company, to name a few, as well as the personal interests of their owners, Hawley Quier and Clarence Bowers. One of his early low-profile but
satisfying successes in court in the 1930s concerned a quiet title action in which he established for the Merkel family, title to the farm in Richmond and Maidencreek Townships, which allowed the expansion of Rich Maiden Golf Club to 18 holes. His client, Betty Merkel, was so thrilled by the outcome of the case that, as part of his fee, Allan, who was an avid golfer, was allowed to play golf for free at Rich Maiden for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, he always paid to play. Although it was not an easy commute by trolley and later by bus in the 1930s and 1940s from his home on College Hill in Kutztown to Stevens & Lee’s offices on South Fifth Street in Reading, Allan refused to move from his Kutztown roots, preferring to raise his four sons (including the author) and a daughter in the Grim family’s commodious house across from the Kutztown college campus.
Politics Opens Up Opportunities
As a young partner at Stevens & Lee, Allan plunged into Democratic party politics in Reading, and he also became well-known in county political affairs by becoming solicitor to several boroughs, townships, and municipal authorities, and serving as a Democratic committeeman in his native Maxatawny Township. His municipal practice was so busy that when more than one municipality met on the same night, rather than sitting through an entire meeting, he simply stopped by, did the required legal business, and drove on to his next meeting. (Would that today’s municipal solicitor be so fortunate?!) His political star really started to rise when he was elected chairman of the Berks County Democratic Party in 1940, a post which gave him the opportunity to become a delegate to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidential nominating convention that same year in Chicago. When FDR was nominated at his fourth convention in Philadelphia in 1944, Allan again was a Continued on page 26
Berks Barrister | 25
THE BERKS COUNTY SEAT ... Continued from page 25 delegate and, most providentially, he met FDR’s vice-presidential nominee, Harry S Truman. After the death of FDR, he was a delegate to the 1948 convention that nominated Truman, who encouraged their personal relationship by inviting Attorney and Mrs. Grim to the White House for a reception. President Truman remembered the lawyer from Berks County when two vacancies were created by congressional legislation expanding the federal court in Philadelphia in August 1949 from five members to seven members. With the approval and recommendation of both of the United States Senators from Pennsylvania, Francis J. Myers, a Democrat, and Edward Martin, a Republican, Allan was nominated to fill one of the vacancies. During the confirmation process, the author remembers, as a five year old, attending his father’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and shaking hands with Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, a member of the committee and a man so huge (or so it seemed) that his hand enveloped the author’s entire right arm. Politics in the nation’s capital at times in the late 1940s could be as polarized as they are today. Allan’s nomination did not come up for a vote on the Senate floor before Congress adjourned in the fall of 1949. President Truman, as history has taught us, was not the kind of leader who would wait on Congress. Allan received a recess appointment from the President, and the newly-minted Judge Grim was sworn in on October 21, 1949. He had just turned 45. His appointment was ratified by the full Senate on April 5, 1950. Judge Grim was the twenty-third appointee to the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the first from Berks County since its inception in 1789. When he took his seat on the bench with six other judges, his salary was $15,000.00 a year. The court today has expanded to 22 judges.
Judge Grim Becomes Nationally Famous in a Case Which Reverberates to This Day Within a short time of his ascension to the federal bench, Judge Grim was thrust into the national limelight with an anti-trust case dealing with the National Football League’s blackout of televised home football games. At the urging of Bert Bell, the commissioner of the National Football League, and his successor, Pete Rozelle, Judge Grim ruled that, indeed, the NFL had the right to black out the home team’s television broadcasts of its games to its local fans, a decision which caused much unhappiness within the growing professional football fan base. The owners of the National Football League, of course, were grateful because
26 | Berks Barrister
it increased ticket sales and made for full stadiums and thus more exciting telecasts around the league, not only of the teams in lucrative television outlets but in the weak markets as well. Judge Grim was excoriated by the national sports press (Sports Illustrated’s lead editorial panned the decision), and he was the target of angry Philadelphia Eagles fans’ telephone calls at home on a Sunday afternoon. The decision was upheld and remained essentially unchanged, and revisited with Judge Grim’s approval in two cases in the 1960s, for more than 60 years. It was modified in 2014 to allow most home team broadcasts (sold out or not) by a ruling of the Federal Communications Commission owing to the changed economics of the National Football League. On the local scene, Judge Grim had an impact on Berks County by sentencing to jail several leading Reading-based rackets defendants after zealous criminal investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice. At the same time, his compiled written opinions in civil and criminal cases are a study in brevity, as he became known nationally for writing some of the shortest opinions on the federal bench. (Perhaps there is a simple reason for this: he wrote many of his opinions in his own hand on Sunday afternoons in the family dining room!) Despite long absences from the bench caused primarily by heart disease, he authored more than 273 opinions in his 25 year career, an average of about 11 a year. He was rarely reversed. In his later years, he was helped in this regard by a particularly skillful wordsmith law clerk, Jan L. Deelman, who later became a respected lawyer in
Berks County and served as president of the Berks County Bar Association in 1969-1970. While on the bench in Philadelphia, Judge Grim continued to be a member of the Berks County Bar Association, and made it his business every year to attend the Bar Association’s events. At the annual invitation of the late Honorable W. Richard Eshelman, he made it a point to visit the Christmas parties of Stevens & Lee. Rather than move his family from his and their roots, he raised his family on College Hill across the street from where he was raised, and elected to be driven to work in Philadelphia as well as Easton, where he also sat on a satellite court in the Easton post office.
The Later Years, and Berks Countians Follow Judge Grim on the Bench
Judge Grim elected senior judge status in 1961 because of ill health resulting from heart-related issues. He continued to work a substantial schedule in Philadelphia, and was scheduled to fly to Minneapolis to try a Justice Department anti-trust action against Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company when he succumbed to his sixth and last heart attack while walking in downtown Philadelphia on December 7, 1965. He was 61. He is buried with his wife, Ruth, his parents, and two of his brothers and their wives on a plot at Fairview Cemetery next to Kutztown University and barely two blocks from the family homestead. His children and grandchildren include several members of the medical profession and six lawyers. Judge Grim paved the way for his successor to the Berks County seat with the appointment of his long-time friend (and best man at his wedding) and former partner at Stevens & Lee,
Berks County Judge Ralph C. Body from Boyertown, appointed by President Kennedy in 1962. Following Judge Body’s appointment, Berks County has sent distinguished lawyers, Daniel H. Huyett III (1970), Thomas Golden (2006), a former president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association as well as of the Berks County Bar Association, and today, Jeffrey L. Schmehl, former President Judge of the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. E. Mac Troutman (1967), while taking the Berks County “seat,” came from Schuylkill County. John Morgan Davis (1964) spent some of his formative years in Reading, but he was from Philadelphia throughout his legal career. It is likely that the power and number of judges in the federal judiciary will continue to grow vis a vis our state courts. Unfortunately, only five of the 102 appointees to the Eastern District in its 226 year history have been from Berks County. Inevitably and hopefully, Berks County someday will have more than one seat on the Eastern District bench, but so much of the process is bound up in politics. On August 22, 1910, a news article appeared in the Reading Eagle that U.S Congressman, John H. Rothermel, had introduced a bill to appropriate funds for a federal courtroom to be established in an expanded Reading post office building. It took another 50 years to establish the Reading station. Today, Berks County has many able lawyers and judges who could serve on the court with distinction in addition to Judge Schmehl. Perhaps we will not have to wait another 160 years from Judge Schmehl’s appointment for a second seat to be filled! Robert P. Grim, Esquire, is a private practitioner with his office in Kutztown.
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Bench Bar Conference
It was a packed house!
FAMILY LAW ROUNDTABLE (L-R): Judges Fudeman, Antanavage and Lash with moderator Jill Koestel
ETHICS OF SOCIAL MEDIA (L-R): Assistant District Attorney Jacquelin Hamer, Jesse Searfoss, Technology Chair Jeff Franklin and Deb Franklin
What could Mr. Bernhart possibly be thinking?
CRIMINAL ROUNDTABLE (L-R): District Attorney John Adams, Chief Public Defender Glenn Welsh, Judges Lash and Parisi (with his BYO Tab) and President Judge Yatron
State of the Bench is good
ESTATE MISTAKES TO AVOID (L-R): Dan Degler, Eric Fabrizio and Bill Blumer (speakers on the topic, not examples)
28 | Berks Barrister
and Spring Meeting
CIVIL ROUNDTABLE with Civil Litigation Section Chair Jeff Bukowski as moderator and (L-R) Judges Johnson, Rowley and Sprecher. The mirror is reflecting an attentive Steve Price
Amy B. Good, Past President Jill Scheidt and Treasurer Justin Bodor
Eden Bucher, Past President Chuck Phillips and Kevin Moore
Eric Strahn and Rebecca Bell
Judge Johnson and Kelly Kline The State of the Bar is good
Continued on page 30
Berks Barrister | 29
Long day for Wieder. (L-R): Christopher Garrell, Sam Adenaike, Mike Wieder, Susanna Fultz, Michelle Rhizor and Alex Elliker
Judge Fudeman, Susan Denaro, Vicki Schutt, President Elect Jill Koestel and Foundation Trustee Debbie Sottosanti
Greg Ghen, John Forry, Diane Ellis, Tony Rearden and Andrea Mertz Jeff and Tina Boyd
Mike Boland, David Eshelman, Past Presidents Dan and Dick Bausher, Bob Hobaugh, Board Director George Gonzalez and Dave Dautrich
JUDICIAL CANDIDATE FORUM (L-R): Jim Lillis, Jonathan Kurland, Eleni Geishauser, Victor Frederick, Tina Boyd, Kelly Kline, Jim Smith and Pat Barrett
30 | Berks Barrister
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