KIDS FOR CASH Robert Grey Bushong THE MAN NEXT DOOR
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The Official Publication of the Berks County Bar Association
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
G. THOMPSON BELL, III, President JESSE L. PLEET, President-Elect JILL GEHMAN KOESTEL, Vice President JAMES M. SMITH, Secretary EDEN R. BUCHER, Treasurer KAREN H. COOK, Director ALISA R. HOBART, Director
Tax Reform May Mean Change to Deduction for Giving
Lawyer, Judge and Principled Politician. But Builder of the Bar’s Home May be His Greatest Legacy
ELIZABETH A. MAGOVERN, Director HONORABLE TIMOTHY J. ROWLEY, Director GEORGE A. GONZALEZ, Director PETER F. SCHUCHMAN, Director EUGENE ORLANDO, JR., Past President JASON A. ULRICH, President YLS
BAR ASSOCIATION STAFF
DONALD F. SMITH, JR., ESQUIRE, Executive Director ANDREA J. STAMM, Lawyer Referral/Secretary KAREN A. LOEPER, Law Journal Secretary
The Man Next Door
Legal Spirits Happy Hour
PAULA J. ZIEGLER, Communications Manager ERIC J. TAYLOR, Law Journal Editor ROARKE ASTON, 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.
President’s Message.................................................................................................. 1 Poetry................................................................................................................. 19 P U B L I S H E D
Book Review: ......................................................................................................... 10 Miscellaneous Docket ....................................................................................... 18
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Restaurant Review ......................................................................................................20 Spotlight on New Members .............................................................................. 21
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President’s Message G. Thompson Bell, III, Esquire, 2014 President
Proud to be a Lawyer.
always wanted to be a lawyer. While other little boys wanted to be a fireman or a baseball player or an astronaut when they grew up, I wanted to be a lawyer. I think it was because the lawyers I saw on TV shows did exciting things, they made sure that justice prevailed, they were heroic. Throughout high school, college, and law school, my ambition to become a lawyer never waned. Happily, I have never regretted my decision to be a lawyer. Like all of you, I’ve had my share of days when I wished I didn’t have to deal with a particular case, work such long hours, or deal with a particularly difficult client. But, there hasn’t been a minute that I’ve regretted my decision to become a lawyer. What makes being a lawyer worthwhile? Is it because lawyering is intellectually challenging? Or, because it involves the opportunity to deal with exciting and sometimes ground breaking cases? Or, because it can be financially rewarding? Being a lawyer is all of those things. Yet, it is not those things alone that, to me, makes being a lawyer worth the long hours, pressure, and stress. What really makes it all worth it is the sense of pride I have in being a member of our great profession. There are lots of reasons we should be proud of what we do. Lawyers are stalwarts of many of our freedoms. That’s not just a trite phrase to be used at the Law Day lunch; it happens to be true. As we all
At the recent Conference of County Bar Leaders, President Bell accepted from PBA President Forest N. Myers the County Bar Recognition Award for the work of the BCBA Solo and Small Practice Section in hosting its first conference devoted to solo and small firm practitioners and the series of mixers leading up to it. Others attending the presentation were (L-R) PBA Past President Tom Wilkinson, CCBL Chair Sharon Lopez, PBA President-Elect Frank O’Connor, Berks President-Elect Jesse Pleet, PBA Past YLD President Jacob Gurwitz and Berks Vice President Jill Koestel.
know, the American judicial system is a crucial part of our system of government. Without it, criminal defendants would not be afforded basic due process and civil litigants would not have a fair forum to determine their rights. As lawyers, we know first-hand the ways lawyers allow the American judicial system to work every day, case by case by case. What we don’t think about as often are the ways lawyers breathe life into our “living Constitution” by constantly testing the boundaries of our freedoms and advocating reforms necessary to bring our laws in line with the evolving notions of right and wrong in our ever-changing
society. This advocacy – often done pro bono – has expanded the rights and protections of Americans dramatically. A criminal defendant’s right to counsel, protections against discrimination, and the right of the public and press to access government documents are just a few ways lawyers, acting for the public good, have caused the freedoms and protections Americans enjoy to be enlarged. There is no doubt that, without lawyers guarding the gates of freedom, the liberties envisioned by the founders in the Bill of Rights would not be what they are today. On a less macro basis, lawyers help Continued on page 2
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President Bell welcomed more than 100 people to the annual Batdorf Lecture sponsored by the BCBA and the O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership & Public Service of Alvernia University. This year’s lecture on “End of Life: Legal, Medical and Ethical Issues” featured, with Tom, presenters (L-R) Attorney William R. Blumer, NYU Professor Arthur L. Caplan, an expert on bioethics, and David Myers, Director of the O’Pake Institute.
people through some of the most difficult and important issues they will ever face. To do that effectively requires an array of skills. A lawyer must have the mental acuity to fully understand the complexities and nuances of the client’s situation. A lawyer must have the legal knowledge and experience needed to recognize and analyze the legal issues implicated. A lawyer must have the compassion to gain the client’s confidence and, paradoxically, make dispassionate judgments, which no client is humanly able to do. And, a lawyer must find creative solutions to unusual conundrums. Contrary to some disparaging lawyer jokes, lawyers are trusted with the operations of government, community and civic organizations in numbers disproportionate to other professions and occupations. These organizations, which operate for the public good, depend on lawyers, more than anyone else, for essential counsel and leadership. This has been the case since the beginning of our nation. It has been so because lawyers have consistently demonstrated the ability to discharge these responsibilities far more effectively than others. Of course, there are times when the profession is tarnished. It is tarnished whenever a lawyer commits a crime, engages in
unethical conduct, fails to competently represent a client, or violates the public trust. In the eye of many members of the public, the misdeeds of one lawyer is a misdeed by every lawyer. The point is this. There are many rewards and opportunities that come with being a lawyer. Perhaps the most significant is the pride we should rightfully feel from being part of a, no, the profession that holds such a high and important place in our country. But, we are entitled to be proud only when we discharge our obligations and take advantage of our opportunities in the right way. We must represent our clients competently and zealously; we must deal with our colleagues and the courts with the utmost civility; we must deal with everyone ethically; and we must never breach the trust our society places in us. Each of us must do our part to contribute to the positive legacy of our profession.
Yes, I am very proud to be a lawyer. I always have been. And, I hope I always will be.
President Bell is pictured with the 25 immigrants who became citizens at the BCBA sponsored Naturalization Ceremony on April 2. In his remarks during the ceremony, Tom said America “is the greatest land of freedom and opportunity in the history of the world” because “more so than any other country in the world, we are a nation of immigrants. You are America’s advantage. Immigrants are willing to work hard to become Americans. They are willing to risk it all—leaving their homes and families and friends—to be Americans. They have a burning desire to be better and to make the lives of others better.” He concluded that America “has been able to sustain its place as the world’s crucible of freedom for almost 250 years only because its fervor for freedom has been constantly refueled by a steady stream of immigrants. Congratulations and thanks in advance for everything you will do for all of us.”
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By Kevin K. Murphy
nywhere you look in our community, you’ll see examples of the work made possible by charitable giving. The Santander Performing Arts Center (formerly the Rajah Theater) was renovated with charitable contributions. The Greater Berks Food Bank relies on charitable gifts to fund a weekend backpack program that provides food for needy children. The Gilmore | Henne Community Fund renovates playgrounds with charitable contributions. And now, down in our nation’s capital, there are discussions about changing the incentives that encourage charitable giving in the United States. This debate will have implications for attorneys as advisors to nonprofit organizations, estate planners and residents of the community. By any measure, the citizens of our country are the most generous in the world—and the envy of the world. In 2012, Americans donated $316 billion to
charities in the United States according to Giving USA, an annual survey of philanthropy. As a way to encourage Americans to give, the federal income tax code has allowed taxpayers to deduct their contributions since 1917, making the charitable deduction almost as old as the income tax itself. In today’s political environment, nothing is off the table, and a debate is brewing about the future of the charitable deduction, part of a much larger debate about the future of tax policy that is likely to come to a head in 2017. The debate has several emerging aspects. The first item that is up for discussion is what the deduction ought to look like. Since taking office, President Obama has consistently proposed capping the deduction, along with other itemized deductions at 28% of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI). This would have the effect of limiting the deduction for the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers. According to Arthur C. Brooks of the American
Enterprise Institute, this would reduce charitable giving by about $9 billion a year, a cut that would fall disproportionately on higher education, arts groups and hospitals. On the other hand, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) has proposed a 2% floor on the deduction. That proposal means that taxpayers could only deduct contributions that exceeded 2% of their AGI. While that plan is still being evaluated, on the surface it would appear to have a devastating effect on workplace giving campaigns like those run by United Way of America affiliates and churches, which frequently rely on many small donations. Still another set of proposals, very much in their infancy, would make the charitable deduction available to all taxpayers, regardless of whether they itemize or not. In today’s climate, the budget impacts of that proposal make it seem unlikely to be adopted, but there’s an inherent logic in it—that people shouldn’t Continued on page 4
Berks Barrister | 3
pay tax on what they give to charity - that makes it attractive to some. A second aspect of the debate centers on the definition of charity and what “nonprofit” means. Some issues, like the nonprofit status of the National Football League have attracted much media attention. While the NFL is nonprofit, it isn’t categorized as charitable—which is to say that a taxpayer cannot deduct a contribution to the league, only that it doesn’t pay taxes on its earnings. That issue, along with related issues, like the nonprofit status of the so-called “501(c)(4)” groups that allow anonymous political giving, is a heated one, with powerful interests lobbying on both sides. What is “charitable” is also drawing increased scrutiny. Members of Congress wonder out loud why deductions to support college athletics (the Rose Bowl is a “charitable” organization for instance), highly profitable health systems and institutional endowments are treated the same as contributions to a food bank or homeless shelter. Higher education and health care seem to draw particular attention from lawmakers, much of it emerging from a perception that their prices have become unaffordable for middle class Americans.
HELP BUILD YOUR cHILDS FUTURE.
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There are dozens of proposed changes that would, among other things, attempt to limit salaries, impose new rules on donor advised funds, alter the Unrelated Business Income Tax and eliminate certain types of supporting organizations. Finally, virtually any change to the tax code as it’s currently structured could have implications for charitable giving, whether that’s intended or not. Numerous proposals have been made to simplify the code so that fewer people itemize their deductions at all. While not specifically designed to impact charitable giving, the American Enterprise Institute notes that any increase in what it costs to contribute leads to fewer contributions. Whatever combination of changes Congress chooses to make, the effects will vary for both taxpayers and charitable organizations, depending on their circumstances. Berks County Community Foundation is working to monitor the debate and to keep interested local parties, including the attorneys who advise clients and the nonprofit community, informed about the proposals. Editor’s Note: Kevin K. Murphy is the President of the Berks County Community Foundation.
YOUNG LAWYERS BOWLED FOR KIDSâ€™ SAKE (L-R): Christin Kochel, Carmen Bloom, Mike Wieder and Matt Setley. Rumor has it that their combined score may have cracked 300.
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Lawyer, Judge & Principled Politician But Builder of the Bar’s Home May Be His Greatest Legacy By Ali Bechtel
erks County has been home to a number of prominent and successful legal minds throughout its long history. Although many of their names have been lost to the history books, some of them left a more lasting impression. Robert Grey Bushong was a successful attorney, judge and congressman from the City of Reading, and although the details of his life may not be common knowledge many still recognize his name as the man who built the building that is now home to the Berks County Bar Association.
Dedicated Citizen of Reading Bushong was born in Reading in 1883, into an old Huguenot family that had settled in eastern Pennsylvania before Berks County was founded. Robert was not the first legal mind of his family. His grandfather, Anthony E. Roberts, was the first Republican to be elected to the United States Congress from Lancaster County, and was a close friend of fellow congressman Thaddeus Stevens, during the Civil War. 1
Bushong spent most of his life in Reading. As the son of the superintendent of the Reading Paper Mills, he was born and raised in the city,2 but left for a few years to pursue his education before returning to the city to begin his career and a family. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1903 and graduated from Columbia University Law School in 1906.2
Later in 1906, he was admitted to the Berks County Bar and began practicing law in his home town. He lived in the city with his wife and daughter for years, built his law practice and became very involved in the community. He served as Chairman of the Board at Pomeroy’s, Inc. and also as Vice President and Director of Colonial Trust Company.1 He was also a member of the 32nd degree in various Masonic bodies included in the Consistory and the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.3
Bushong had a great reputation throughout the City of Reading and also the legal community. According to his 1930 congressional election pamphlet, “As a citizen ‘Judge’ Bushong, as he [was] more favorably known, [won] extraordinary standing in this part of the state purely as the result of his manifest personal qualities, his intellectual abilities, public spirit, genial modesty and his keen and sympathetic understanding of human problems among all kinds and conditions of people.”1
Distinguished Attorney and Area’s Youngest Judge Despite his other involvements, Bushong was first and foremost a successful attorney. He practiced privately for a number of years before being appointed to succeed the late Judge Bland as Orphans’ Court Judge by Berks County Governor John K. Tener. With this appointment, he became the youngest judge to sit on the bench in this part of the Commonwealth.1 He served on the bench for a number of years, including a stint as President Judge from 1914 to 1915,2 before returning to private practice in 1916. “Within a very short time this young man was fighting some of the most important legal battles an attorney of his age had ever been entrusted with in the local courts. In 1912 and 1913 he assisted in the prosecution by the Commonwealth of the famous insurance conspiracy cases. Mr. Bushong’s career at the bar was distinguished from the beginning.”1
In the late twenties the country saw a rash of insurance conspiracy cases resulting from the illegal manufacture of alcohol following the enactment of Prohibition. Bushong assisted in a number of those cases locally. Unfortunately, in one of them, Central Abbatoir Co., Inc. v. London & Scottish Assurance Corp. he was on the losing side. The case arose from a fire loss in October 6, 1924 when an explosion was caused by two large stills in a former refrigeration room. The company attempted to collect insurance, but Berks County Judge Paul N. Schaeffer ruled that the insured could not recover loss sustained from a fire that originated from a use of the premises for which the insurer did not insure.4
By 1931 his law practice was thriving and Bushong built an office and apartment in the city at 544 Court Street. He had offices and hearing rooms on the first two floors and built a small apartment on the third floor. The building became the home of the Berks County Bar Association when it was purchased in 1961. On October 7, 1935, Bushong was elected Treasurer of the Bar Association,5 and in 1938 he published a three volume treatise on land law, titled Pennsylvania Land Law. A set of his treatise was gifted to the Bar Association in February 2004 by Attorney Sidney D. Kline, Jr. of Stevens & Lee, who acknowledged that “it was for many years the bible of Pennsylvania land law.” Bushong maintained his practice in Reading for the remainder of his life. Continued on page 8
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will Quit G.O.P. rather than Bow to Bosses—May Mean Bitter Esterly-Bushong Battle” 8
Despite being a lifelong Republican, the controversy surrounding Bushong’s time in Congress led him to consider running on the Democratic ticket in 1928. Bushong did not hide his disgust with the “Vare and Reed factions” and their approval of the actions of the “Republican political machine in Pennsylvania,” as Bushong called it. He publicly admonished the state’s party leaders on a regular basis and strongly objected to the leadership of Senator David Reed and former member House of Representatives Senator William Vare, as well as County Executive Committee member Charles J. Esterly, among others.8
Bushong stated, “It goes against the grain with me to be looked at as a man who must do the bidding of the Reed and Vare bosses instead of voting on my own convictions and entirely in accord with the wishes of the people of Berks and Lehigh Counties, whom I have the honor to represent in Congress, just because I was elected on the Republican ticket.” 8
Principled Politician Who Refused to Bow to the Machine Bushong’s career was not just one of a private practitioner and judge in a small city. He also had a long and controversial political career. In 1908 he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the Reading district, and served with distinction in the 1909 session. Following his first session he returned home to serve as Chairman of the Berks County Republican Committee in 1912, 1913, 1916 and 1917.1
He hit the road again in 1916, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago,2 when the Republican Party nominated Supreme Court Justice Charles Evan Hughes to run against incumbent President Woodrow Wilson for the presidency.6 Bushong served as a member of the National Convention again in 1924 in Cleveland.2 It was the first national party convention to be broadcast on the radio, and the rules had also been changed that year to elect women to the National Committee. Incumbent President Calvin Coolidge was assured the nomination.6
Moving up the political ladder, he was then elected to the United State Congress in 1926, but Bushong was only to serve one two-year term.2 During his time in Congress he voted for the establishment of a federal farm board but against farm relief. The McNary Haugen Farm Relief Bill was one of the most important matters to come before Congress that session; it was debated for over two weeks and received a favorable vote from at least four other Pennsylvania Congressmen. Aside from this issue, there was very little legislation adopted during the session.7 While his vote against farm relief was controversial, he faced even greater controversy with the party bosses but did not shy away from it.
The following headline appeared in the February 27, 1928 issue of the Reading Eagle: “Bushong Likely to Seek Nomination for Congress on Democratic Ticket—Berks Lehigh Congressman probably
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In order to escape the pressures of these men, Bushong announced that he was strongly considering running for renomination on the Democratic ticket. “The time is just about ripe to form the nucleus of a party in Pennsylvania that will rid the state of political bosses, such as we have under Reed and Vare. I don’t care if you give it to the Republican or Democrat label, just so it’s done. My quarrel is not with the Republicans, but with those who are now running the party.”8
Shortly after his announcement that he was considering running for reelection as a Democrat, Bushong announced that he would not be running at all. He issued a statement that he would not enter the primary contest following the announcement that former Congressman Charles Esterly intended to seek the Republican Party nomination, and that Abraham Rothermel was running for the Democratic nomination.9
“I have decided not to be a candidate for re-election to Congress. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that political parties are only justified if they serve the public good. Although I have been a fairly consistent Republican since I first voted in 1904, I am not willing to be an active member of the party in Pennsylvania with the present organization in control.” Bushong further explained that he was unwilling to cooperate with the Vare organization, “I regret exceedingly that Senator Reed saw fit in the last session of Congress to lead a filibuster which prevented much important legislation merely to save Mr. Vare.” 9
In addition to refusing to seek the Republican ticket against Esterly and the “Vare organization,” Bushong also did not want to run against Rothermel for the Democratic nomination. He indicated that he had tremendous respect for the Democratic Party and for Rothermel, and was pleased that the people had “the privilege of being able to vote for a man who could be relied upon to represent them in no mean partisan spirit.” He believed Rothermel would serve the people of the district well and drive down the so-called Republican organization, so his candidacy became unnecessary. 9 A man of principle, Bushong was more concerned with what was best for the people and not the party machine.
A Quiet End to an Eventful Career
After his eventful run in Congress, Bushong returned home to Reading and continued to practice law for the remainder of his life. He died on April 6, 1951 and is interred in the Charles Evans Cemetery at the heart of the city he loved so much. 2 It is difficult to believe that such a principled, successful and well-liked man like Robert Grey Bushong could fade into the pages of history, but he has left behind a permanent legacy and reminder of his career by having built the building which is the home of the Berks County Bar Association Building.
“There are no traditions of which this country has more just reason to be proud than those of the American Bar, with its long list of illustrious names, its brilliant record of high achievement and lofty service rendered to the causes we have ever held most dear, and nowhere have these traditions been better established and upheld than among those splendid men who have, from Colonial days down to the present, represented the Pennsylvania Bar, and who have been its lights. Typical of these men who have collectively written this magnificent record for their City, State and Nation is Robert Grey Bushong, one of Reading’s most able attorneys.” 3 Editor’s Note: Ali Bechtel is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to The Berks Barrister.
1 Robert Grey Bushong, Candidate for Congress, Berks-Lehigh 14th Pennsylvania District: Robert Grey Bushong for Congress Election Pamphlet, 1930. Print. 2 “Robert Grey Bushong.” Biographical Directory of United States Congress. United States Office of Art and Archives. Web. (bioguide.congress.gov) 3 Fox, Cyrus T., ed. Reading and Berks County Pennsylvania, A History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc, 1925. Vol. 2, pg. 23. Print. 4 Smith, Calvin E. A History of Berks County’s Bench, Bar and Bar Association. Reading: The Berks County Bar Association, 1981. 133. Print. 5 Smith, Calvin E. A History of Berks County’s Bench, Bar and Bar Association. Reading: The Berks County Bar Association, 1981. 136. Print. 6 “Republican National Political Conventions 1856-2008 ” Library of Congress Online. United States Library of Congress. Web. 2008. (www.loc.gov) 7 Fryer, Benjamin. “Robert Grey Bushong, Republican, Sent to 70th Congress—County Remains in G.O.P. Column—First Judge to go to the House from this District—Votes Against Farm Relief and to Override two Vetoes—Assails Leaders.” Reading Eagle. Print. 8 Manning, George. “Bushong Likely to Seek Nomination for Congress on Democratic Ticket—Berks Lehigh Congressman Probably will Quit G.O.P. rather than Bow to Bosses—May Mean Bitter Esterly-Bushong Battle.” Reading Eagle 27 February 1928. Print. 9 Fryer, Benjamin. “Bushong Will Not Enter Race for Reelection— Congressman Criticizes His Party; Commends Democrat in Field.” Reading Eagle 5 March 1928. Print.
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Berks Barrister | 9
Book Review Reviewed by Jill M. Scheidt, Esquire
For this issue I have written a review of two books. One I recommend and one I do not.
isa Scottline has been writing crime novels for years. Her most recent novel, Accused, is the twelfth in a series with the all-women Philadelphia criminal defense firm of Rosato & Associates. Bennie Rosato, a superlawyer, is the founding partner. In the prior novels, Bennie and her plucky female associates find themselves in the middle of bizarre who-dun-its, which consume their lives for a period of weeks then resolve in a satisfying Nancy Drew or Scooby-Doo fashion.
Our esteemed Bar-Tender requested that I read Accused, since it “received a somewhat favorable review in the Times.” He also thought the book would have widespread appeal as the featured law firm of five attorneys are all female and located in Philly. Well, let me tell you, his signed copy of this book isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. The first chapter begins with former associate, Mary DiNunzio, celebrating with her family, new partner and three (3) associates, who are all great friends, because she’d just “made partner.” Her perfect boyfriend and stereotypical Italian parents, with their elderly Italian friends, round out the group, but the party is cut short because a rich, 13
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year old prospective client arrives, seeking representation. Her sister had been murdered several years earlier at a party at her father’s office. The teenager, Allegra, believed that the defendant who was convicted, who in fact pled guilty, was innocent and the real killer was at large. Allegra, who of course has a quirky hobby—beekeeping—indulged by her rich parents and the source of an over-abundance of bad jokes, wants to hire Rosato & Associates to solve her sister’s murder, that’s now six years old.
Of course, the firm takes the case, accepts a $5,000 retainer and drops everything. On cue, Mary’s loud but proud and well-intentioned parents burst into the conference room to shower cannoli on Allegra and tell her she’s cute but too skinny, “transforming the conference room into an Olive Garden.” Allegra is so charmed she wants to hire Mary’s parents too. Mary and her cohorts immerse themselves into the investigation over a meal of Italian food in her parents’ quaint row home in South Philly filled with more Italian-American working class stereotypes. The evening ends with a marriage proposal from Anthony, her
live-in boyfriend who is seemingly perfect for her, when he surprises her with a carat and a half diamond tied to her favorite fig tree, the diamond was “as big as a meatball.” But Mary is fighting her demons and filled with doubt. Her first husband was murdered and the new case is stirring up unresolved grief all of which is standing in the way of her perfect future as partner and wife in her perfect three-story old colonial townhouse with black shutters, brick façade, mullioned windows with bubbled glass, windowsills a foot deep, and grown-up kitchen.
When she broke the news of her engagement to her female partner and associates, they acted like 7th grade girls running out of a Jr. High dance. Back to the murder investigation. Day two starts with a call from Allegra’s father, who invites Mary and her cohorts to his large gated estate, called Houyhnhnm Farm.
Needless to say, the meeting on the estate doesn’t go smoothly. After reciting some ethical rules and principal-agency theory and meeting with the parents without permission of their client, Mary and her associates are faced with the “legal cavalry” of Allegra’s parents’ legal team. The parents had “lawyered up” but Mary relishes a good fight. As tensions mount while the five lawyers exchange legal barbs that read like definitions from Black’s Law Dictionary, Allegra arrives on the scene, wearing a T-shirt that reads “Don’t Worry, Bee Happy.” And so, the tale continues. Allegra wows everyone with her Asperger’s-like plethora of knowledge of bees, which probably came straight from “BeeKeeping for Dummies”. Mary vacillates
E V D A
I E S I RT
at marrying her fiancé, and the incredible legal thriller unfolds. If you read it, tell me how it ends. I could not bring myself to endure the inane, boring storyline past Chapter 15. Sorry, Donald. On the other hand, I read Kids for Cash all the way to the end, and then I even attended a special showing of the movie of the same name, directed by Robert May.
The schools-to-prison pipeline had been established as a way to discipline students and seemingly provide a secure learning environment in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. The stage was set for Judges Ciavarella and Conahan of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas to profit from facilitating the building of a private juvenile detention center, and then send juveniles from Luzerne County to that same institution. William Ecenberger, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and George Polk, award-winning investigative journalist who covered the case for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote
the first book-length account of this shocking story. Not only does the author explore the deeply corrupt and broken system that ruined the lives of many children and ultimately led to the Judges’ conviction on charges of racketeering, fraud, tax violations, money laundering, extortion, and bribery, he challenges the reader to explore the state of our current U.S. juvenile justice.
Ecenberger started covering the story in October 2009, months after the story broke in January 2009. The story occupied him for the next 2 ½ years. He interviewed over 200 people, including 13 of the Judges’ child victims and their parents. He covered hearings, trials and sentencings and read thousands of pages of court documents. He has chosen to weave the stories of some of the children, most of whom were charged with minor offenses and were first-time defendants, with the history of the coal barons in Northeast Pennsylvania which explains the origin Continued on page 12
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Berks Barrister | 11
of corruption that became a way of life in Luzerne County, the mob ties that Judges Ciavarella and Conahan shared, the cash exchanged in boxes and the courageous mother who stood up to the travesty.
The story is simple and has been told many times by now. Judges Ciavarella and Conahan accepted $2.6 billion from builders of juvenile facilities in return for sending juveniles convicted of minor crimes to those facilities. They were arrested and tendered guilty pleas which were rejected by Federal Judge Kosik because of their lack of remorse. Most significantly, Judge Ciavarella has continually maintained that he has not profited; he vehemently rejects the notion of “kids for cash.” Yet, Ecenberger gives great detail, with refined authenticity, proving Ciavarella not only denied the juveniles their constitutional rights, even after the Superior Court chastised him in an opinion, he thwarted the efforts of the DPW, which was conducting an audit. The culture of fear and strict sentencing was supported by the schools and the community at large, so it is no surprise that there was no call to action after the local paper published an expose of the disproportionate number of juvenile incarcerations and the associated expense to taxpayers years earlier.
The chapter I found most intriguing is entitled “The Elephant in the Courtroom.” It addresses the phenomenon of bystander apathy that has plagued me since I heard of this treatment of juveniles. I’ve appeared in juvenile court many times. While most proceedings are closed to the public, there are many professionals in the courtroom, many of whom are officers of the court sworn to report ethical violations. The assistant district attorney, assistant public defender, private lawyers, probation officers, police officers, court reporters, court staff, deputies and tipstaff are present. No one spoke up. The teachers and school administrators who knew of these inappropriate sentences also remained silent. Private lawyers told prospective clients to not hire them; their advocacy would be ineffective before Judge Ciaverella. “Silence is an extremely effective form of lying, but most silences are pauses, interludes, breaks in the action. The silence in Ciavarella’s courtroom was deep and abiding, 6 years long, and it was never broken from within by the people who were closest to it. It was a conspiracy of silence…which have existed at all times and at all levels of society.” The Roman Catholic Church and the priest sex abuse scandals; Major League
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Baseball and steroid use; German citizens who lived near the Nazi Crematoria. This is no different.
Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers are obligated to report a judge’s rights violations. Under Rule 8.3, lawyers aware of his actions should have reported him to the Judicial Conduct Board ( JCB) or the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board. The prosecutors were required under Rule 3.8 to report the huge number of children appearing before Ciavarella without counsel.
Ecenberger, and our own Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, believe that the web woven by silence by the three most important players in Luzerne County was due to their acceptance of zero tolerance. The district attorney, chief juvenile police officer and the chief public defender adopted a hands-off approach, allowing Ciavarella to set the tone and run amok. In fact, the chief public defender and the district attorney never set foot in juvenile court!
Apparently, there was one very detailed written complaint submitted to the JCB on September 28, 2006. It consisted of an anonymous, eight-page, single-spaced complaint to Judge Conahan that alleged links to organized crime, casefixing and an unusually high rate of juvenile placements. The complaint contained names, dates, the caption and docket numbers of cases, the names of litigants and attorneys and other detail. It was “an extraordinary document, a detailed road map for investigators.” The JCB did nothing for eight months. Then the Board voted to table the complaint, intending to look at it again at its October 2007 meeting. But the complaint never got on the agenda. The JCB never took any action on the complaint. It was simply lost. Rather, the Board staff spent much of its time and resources investigating Luzerne County Judge Ann Lokuta who was ultimately removed from the bench. Many believe Conahan orchestrated Lokuta’s demise, while it is widely believed that the complaint against Conahan came from Lokuta. The movie “Kids for Cash” is an excellent complement to the book, and I recommend you see the movie after reading the book. As is often the case, the book provides greater detail. The director, Robert May, is a Luzerne resident and the father of teenagers. He was also formerly a supporter of the zero tolerance mindset within the community, fostered by the school
administration and Ciavarella. May contends, though, that once the community discovered that Ciavarella had taken money, he was maligned. May calls it hypocrisy and believes that, if the judges had not taken money, they would still be judges. Both May and Ecenberger challenge us to explore how we treat children, both in school and in the criminal justice system.
Judge Grim. It was lively as many attendees work in our local system. May shared that, when the movie was shown at a judge’s conference in western United States, one judge said that he does what Ciavarella and Conahan did but receives no money for it.
The documentary is heart-wrenching and will anger you. The director follows the lives and cases of only five young people who were victimized by Ciavarella. One is a 12-year-old boy who swore at the mother of another child. Another young boy was arrested because his parents unknowingly purchased a stolen moped for him as a gift. It’s unlikely that either of these incidents constituted criminal behavior. But all five whose young, prepubescent faces look at us from their junior high school class photos, spend years in and out of detention. They all enter the same way: without counsel, without being heard, being shackled and transported in a van to Pennsylvania Child Care only to return to school to have their school-based juvenile probation officer re-commit them after referral by school administrators for typical adolescent behavior. The director allows the children, now adults, to tell their stories of separation, isolation, incarceration, anxiety, academic failure and shame with excruciating detail, and the parents’ pain is palpable. Listening to Sandy Fonzo tell her son’s story that ended with suicide is especially difficult. Her confrontation of Ciavarella on the courthouse steps after the verdict, while his lawyer tried to spin it as a victory, is on YouTube. Fair warning, it’s emotional. But Hillary Transue and her mother recount how they stood up to the corrupt system and found redemption in the lawyers at the Juvenile Law Center. It is not a coincidence that Hillary Transue was from outside of Luzerne County, giving her the wherewithal to take a stand. She is one of the named Plaintiffs in the class action suit.
Editor’s Note: Jill M. Scheidt is a partner at Masano Bradley and a past president of the Berks County Bar Association.
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Perhaps the single best reason to watch the documentary is to hear Ciavarella and Conahan tell their stories. Yes, while the investigation was ongoing and before their trials, they both gave hours of interviews and each time they told May they didn’t want their lawyers to know. He was so concerned that before each interview he conducted a collequoy of the Defendants, affording them the opportunity to have their attorneys present. The irony… Ciavarella is arrogant, self-righteous and tearful when he relates that his grandchildren may only know him as a monster, all the while insisting that he was only acting in the best interest of the juveniles he sentenced. He wants us to believe that he was only doing his job.
Is it just the money that makes their actions wrong? Should due process, including the right to counsel, be acceptable victims of zero tolerance?
You know the ending: Ciavarella got 28 years; Conahan got 17 ½ years. Senior Judge Grim, after being specially appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed and expunged all 3,000 juvenile cases to right the wrong. Dozens of other people involved in the corrupt system were arrested and convicted. Major reforms were adopted after the newly formed Interbranch Communion on juvenile justice was formed.
The special screening of the movie I attended was followed by a discussion led by Film Director May and Senior
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By Francis M. Mulligan, Esquire
n Friday, August 7, 1964 a television crew from a Philadelphia channel interviewed passers-by on Broad Street between Chestnut and Samson Streets. I was coming to work at 211 S. Broad when I saw the TV crew. I stopped to be interviewed. “Do you approve of President Johnson’s action?” “I asked ‘What did he do?”
The interviewer explained the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and before I could respond the cameraman yelled out that he didn’t get the interview. Something went wrong. I told the interviewer that I would come around the corner, and he could re-interview me. When I came around the corner the second time, he asked and I said: “I reserve judgment on the President’s action until I have more information.”
My interview wasn’t selected for the Philadelphia evening or late night news. On a very serious day for the United States, probably for comic relief, both of my interviews ran in South Jersey shore points. My next door neighbors in Upper Darby, George and Jean, owned a shore house. They and their Friday night guests saw both of my interviews. One of their guests commented, “That guy is a nut.” George added: “He lives next door to us in Highland Park.”
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Last Easter when I called my sister-in-law in Ocean City, she mentioned that Jean’s obituary appeared in the Atlantic City Press. The year before she told me that she read George’s obit. I hadn’t thought about George in a long time. Now, I’m thinking about him quite a bit. A Berks County suicide of a bad conduct discharged soldier provoked it. I read a follow-up story about the soldier in the Reading Eagle. The young man had been scheduled for another deployment. At his army base before his deployment date, he screwed-up routine assignments. Intensely studying the well-researched newspaper article one thought jumped into my head. Soldier screwed-up and killed himself because he couldn’t go back to Afghanistan. I’m sensitive to soldier suicides. A member of the World War II military tribunal that ordered the execution of the tragic Private Eddie Slovik, the only World War II soldier executed for desertion, practiced law in Berks County. A firing squad carried out Eddie Slovik’s suicide.
George and Jean lived next door to my parents’ house on Academy Lane in Upper Darby. Academy Lane, a row house street, bordered the Philadelphia Electric Golf Course. My parents’ house was semi-detached—one of the few on the block. We had friendly neighbors. George sold advertising space for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He didn’t like talking about work. It was “just a job.” I understood what he said. I’d
put my job with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in the same category – nothing special. George had Eagles tickets when a fan didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to see one of the worst teams in football. Everything about George seemed ordinary and unheroic. He didn’t speak softly, and carry a big stick. George and Jean were loud. I heard them through the party wall. Their voices carried through the plaster. If we didn’t have the TV on, we heard their animated discussions. My mother thought George to be all bark but no bite.
One summer evening my mother saw George’s other side—the one he hid so well. Bob, the next door neighbor on the other side of the breezeway had a habit of letting his dog defecate on neighbors’ lawns. George had been collecting the smelly summer deposits Bob’s dog made on his lawn and then that evening threw the entire collection, at close range, at Bob’s front door. I missed George’s summer night poo throw, but my mother heard the neighbors on either side of us exchange midsummer night curses. George’s out of control anger forced my mother to see George in a new light. Up to that point she didn’t know that George had a temper. She told me about it when I came home from my evening class at Temple University. I listened but made no comment. George struck me as a guy who had never been in a fight, but his behavior as described by my mother sounded like a guy looking for a fight. When George saw me on Saturday he told me about the confrontation. He had warned the offending neighbor before he went on the rampage. It was the last time Bob’s dog dumped on George’s lawn.
The summer ended and I took more night classes in the fall. For reasons which now baffle me, I felt compelled to have a Master of Public Administration on my resume. I spent my nights taking classes or studying. The seasons of short days crept up on us. Close to Thanksgiving, George invited me over on a Saturday night for a drink. My mother didn’t know what to make of the invitation. With the exception of her Irish friends, Alice and Mary, she didn’t invite anyone into the house. I told her it would be a one-time non-reciprocal event. Mother wouldn’t have to clean the house for the return visit.
I went next door at 8 P. M. George, a good host, made me a Martini. Their kids were in bed. George and Jean seemed to be in a good mood. We talked about things and eventually the conversation turned to the draft – something on my mind since that August TV interview. It never occurred to me that George might have been drafted. I asked him:
I assumed a college educated man like George wound-up with a behind the lines position.
“You weren’t in combat?” “Stayed out of it.”
Jean, who hadn’t said much all evening, made herself heard. “George why are you lying to Frank. Tell him the truth.”
If I happened to be sitting in my parents’ living room with the TV on or off, I would have heard George through the party wall.
“Jean, I told you not to bring it up.”
I wished I hadn’t asked. They were now angry with each other. Jean left the living room in a huff. I thought I’d finish my drink and go home. George did a poor job of trying to change the subject.
He assured me that Jean would be back. He’d made me another drink. While he made drinks Jean reappeared with several thin oblong boxes. They looked like gift boxes for an expensive bracelet. George knew what was in them. He yelled at Jean. “Jean, I told you not to bring that stuff out.”
George groaned, “I’m not going to sleep tonight.”
For a second, I wished I had stayed home and watched Dragnet. Jean opened the boxes. Inside were service medals. She handed me the citation. It summed up what happened in one typewritten page. George didn’t stop me from reading it. In a different setting and a war apart, the citation replicated the story of Philadelphia’s Al Schmid Continued on page 16
“George, you weren’t drafted?”
I assumed he was 4 F because he never mentioned a connection to the military. “I was drafted.”
Because of his age another question popped into my head. “You stayed out of Korea?” “No, I was there.”
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whose combat story Hollywood made into Pride of the Marines. With John Garfield playing Schmid’s role, his night on Guadalcanal played in every movie theatre in Philadelphia. It came with a price for Schmid. The Marine machine gunner from Philadelphia lost his sight from a grenade blast at close range. One marine in the machine gun nest lost his life and the third man suffered serious wounds. Like Schmid, George began the battle as the feeder and ended up the gunner. I read the typed description of the battle. It wasn’t a place I had heard of. One hill among thousands in the desolate Korean countryside.
I thought, “How do you kill over 200 Chinese soldiers in one night?” Bob was lucky George only threw a bag of dog poo at his front door. When I finished reading the citation, I looked over at a sweating George. “It’s not what you think. That’s why I don’t like to talk about it.” But, he had to talk about it. He was too worked-up not to talk about it.
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“A helicopter dropped me and ammo on top of the hill in the afternoon. When I crawled out of the helicopter I introduced myself to the two men in the nest. I replaced the third man. I didn’t ask what became of him. The soldiers in the nest told me that the Chinese would be back after dark. We went over the mechanics of feeding the ammunition. If the machine gun jammed none of us would be around in the morning.”
Jean pretended she wasn’t listening. She would never have made it as an actress. The sun began to fade. George didn’t describe the conversation among the men in the foxhole. The Chinese soldiers who would be gathering at the bottom of the hill had his full attention. George’s energy level went into overdrive. The waiting got to him.
He couldn’t see the enemy from the nest. When the time came the machine gun would be seeing for them. They’d hear the enemy he was told. He didn’t ask a lot of questions. He felt certain that he wouldn’t be alive in the morning. George understood the pecking order. He’d be
feeding the shells into the machine gun. For him to be firing the gun the other two soldiers would be dead or disabled. With tears in his eyes, he spoke softly:
“We heard them yelling below us on the hill. The gunner began firing. He strafed the hillside in all directions. He had done it before. We heard the groaning. He waited and then changed his firing pattern, but made the complete circle. The back-up gunner died from a Chinese bullet. I heard him grunt before he died. An hour later the gunner took a fatal bullet. He told me what to do if he was shot. I pushed him away from the machine gun and took over. “I waited and then I began firing. I heard the groans. They were still coming. The gunner told me they’d keep coming. It was a guessing game. If I guessed right I might live through the night. I heard the sounds of the wounded Chinese soldiers on the hill below me. I had no idea how close they were or where they were. Fear would come later. Not too much later. “I could tell that the ammo wouldn’t last so I took more time between strafing the hillside. As the night went on, I heard
less groaning from the Chinese soldiers below me on the hillside. When I ran out of ammo, I waited and prayed. “I have no idea when I feel asleep. The whirling blades above me woke me up. The copter dropped down on the hillside below me. It wasn’t a dream. My dead comrades of one night were in the nest beside me. One of the soldiers in the copter told me: ‘We’re taking you out of here. You guys killed over 200 Chinese soldiers last night. Can you get into the copter? Last night was your last night in combat.’ “It had to do with the medals. I had to be alive to receive my medals.”
George looked wiped out. I didn’t question him. Jean picked up the boxes and put everything away. I never mentioned George’s story to anyone. The article in the Reading Eagle brought it all back.
In April, 40 students from Boyertown Junior High West visited the Courthouse and Reading City Hall. Pictured here with the Honorable Scott Lash, the students also met with Mayor Vaughn Spencer, along with other city and county officials. Arrangements for the visits were made by Tonya Butler, Justin Bodor (a distinguished alumnus of Boyertown West) and Jim Smith. Wonder if Judge Lash’s talk included a demonstration on the
proper technique of throwing a Frisbee?
Years later, I counseled with a Vietnam era sailor about his drinking. Unlike George, the order my sailor was given sent his shells from the Mekong River in the wrong direction, killing fellow Americans on the hillside above him. “Wrong co-ordinates” ruined his life. I’m certain that our war happy but fiscally restrained leaders will continue shortchanging the ex-soldiers desperately in need of healing.
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Editor’s Note: Mr. Mulligan is a past president of the Berks County Bar Association and is a solo practitioner. His novel, Spanish Market, is to be published later this year. Any opinions expressed by Mr. Mulligan in his article are his alone and not that of the Berks County Bar Association.
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Berks Barrister | 17
On December 11, 2013 David Levi Zansitis was born to Brenna H. Mendelsohn and Brian Zansitis. Brenna is co-chair of BCBAâ€™s Bankruptcy Section and practices with Mendelsohn & Mendelsohn.
The beginning of the year saw the re-election of Stephen H. Price as president of the Wernersville Borough Council for the sixth term.
Recently, the Greater Reading Economic Partnership reelected Frederick R. Mogel of Mogel, Speidel, Bobb & Kershner to its board of directors. Elected to the board for the first time was Timothy G. Dietrich of Barley Snyder.
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Paul Missan and wife, Sheina, had a
son, Seth Benjamin, in January. Paul is the principal of Missan Law Offices.
In March Paul Essig of Essig Valeriano received the San Damiano Award at the Friends of Francis Festival. The St. Francis Home is a non-profit organization providing care to those terminally ill residents who have no family to care for them.
The Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania honored BCBA Past President Jill M. Scheidt at its Take the Lead event on April 8. A partner at Masano Bradley, Jill was recognized for the leading role she has played in the Bar Association and in other community endeavors, such as the Reading Musical Foundation.
Ubiquity of Cats
By William W. Runyeon, Esquire
Margaret Rebecca McCahon was born to parents Sarah Rubright McCahon and husband, Brian, on February 12, 2014. Sarah is with the Reading office of Barley Snyder.
On February 26, Assistant District Attorney Jesse Leisawitz and wife Jessica welcomed daughter Rose Catherine.
Not to be shown up by his brother, on April 8, Benjamin Leisawitz, wife Michele, daughter Leah and dog Tov welcomed Adam Isaac. Ben is an associate at Leisawitz Heller Abramowitch Phillips, P.C.
Lehigh Valley Business has named Heidi B. Masano a 2014 Woman of Influence. The managing partner of Masano Bradley was honored as a dynamic business leader and for being influential in her profession and community, at a luncheon in Bethlehem on May 21.
The curiosity that did not serve the cat so well, yet may be found of value. Manâ€™s gift of awareness amidst lifeâ€™s uneven flow has its own inconsistency, however we seek to know. A pattern established has its meaning, as does the pattern broken. The mind, impressionistic in its focus, amidst a world episodic in the living, does not allow for very long, that full moon rising feel of wholeness, and completion. Aware, yet not lost in self, the waters broken, the new babe born, through the ages of the living, the pull of time increased with its passing, some partial healing at its increase, heartfelt and fulfilled; and also ruined, by such completion, nearly whole, at our place, beneath a gravestone, where, at its juncture with the earth, lies a perfect place of respite, in the howling, fearful night, for our shadowed namesake, neither lost, nor abandoned: a feral cat, curled up, and ever something less than worshipful, however harsh the day, or loving, the night.
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A Trip Down Delicious Memory Lane By Susan N. Denaro, Esquire
lthough breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out, I have never been a big fan of going out for brunch. Typically, I find the standard Berks County brunch fare consisting of buffet tables of sterno-warmed offerings an appetite killer. I also detest over-crowded restaurants as a rule. On a recent Sunday, however, we discovered a delightful brunch experience at Say Cheese! We went there with lunch in mind but discovered that on weekends it has a brunch menu as well as its standard lunch menu. Almost every table was full despite the fact that there wasn’t a steam table in sight.
I have to admit that the brunch menu didn’t look terribly inspiring as five of the thirteen dishes listed fried fingerlings as a side, but then the fried chicken and waffles caught my eye. Occasionally, my grandmother made this Southern dish for dinner in the summer. If we were good and ate everything on our plates, she would serve the extra waffles with Way-Har peach ice cream for dessert and then send us out into the yard to catch fireflies while she did the dishes. When my meal finally arrived, I was instantly transported back to my childhood. Although I can still picture
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my grandmother dipping the chicken in a similar buttermilk batter and then standing at the stove frying it to golden perfection while the hot lard splattered onto her apron and stove top, I have to admit that the Say Cheese! dish tasted even better than my grandmother’s.
We declined as we were unable to clean our plates. Even if there had been peach ice cream on another waffle square, I couldn’t have managed it—not even for nostalgia’s sake.
It is to the credit of the staff that my only complaint about our experience is that I wanted more maple cream honey because our order got lost in the shuffle in kitchen, resulting in a LONG wait for our meal. We didn’t seem to mind the wait, partly because we realized how packed the restaurant was and partly because we were enjoying absolutely righteous bloody marys. The restaurant recently obtained a liquor license and has limited offerings. Right about the time we were thinking about inquiring, our waiter appeared with a complimentary drink refill and apologized, saying that our meal was going to be on the house because of the error. All I can say is the meal was more than worth the wait.
For lunch, my go-to is the ratatouille at Say Cheese! It’s a vegetarian dish that can be slightly heavy on the olive oil but is still much lighter than a sandwich. The Sunday we went for lunch it was because I was craving the ratatouille. But when a special meal from my childhood caught my eye, I opted for the trip down memory lane instead. The only sad thing was that as we left the restaurant, I was ready to chase lightening bugs and there were none to be found.
Say Cheese’s modern version featured moist, boneless white meat that was fried to the perfect level of crunch. It was not so hot that it couldn’t be eaten the second it 7 at the table. The waffle underneath arrived it was denser than my grandmother’s but it stayed hot during the entire meal. For the life of me, I can’t understand how it remained warm. Usually waffles get cold very quickly. If I had to say a negative, it would be that the dish could have used a heavier drizzle of the Bumbleberry Farm’s Maple Cream Honey. It was thick and decadent and fortunately is for sale in the store part of the restaurant.
While we were enjoying our entrees, one of the owners came over to apologize again and told us dessert would also be included.
If you are like me and do not normally like brunch crowds, go on a week day for lunch or dinner. We had a great dinner there with friends a few months ago when it was still BYOB. That night we started with corn-dusted artichoke hearts with lavender and lemon. The aroma of the lavender leapt off the plate. It was the most original and delicate flavor treatment for an artichoke and one worth ordering again. We also enjoyed a plate of Jamon Iberico as a starter. It is a cured black footed pig that is primarily acorn-fed and that subtle acorn flavor comes through in the thinly sliced meat. Everyone at dinner had a different entrée and all the plates were passed so we could try each other’s. While each one had an original flare and was very good, the stars of the meal were the appetizers.
Editor’s Note: Susan N. Denaro, Esquire, is a principal in the Wyomissing law firm of Rabenold, Koestel, Goodman & Denaro.
CARMEN J. BLOOM
Spotlight on New Members By Donald F. Smith, Jr., Esquire Carmen J. Bloom joined the District Attorney’s Office last September as an Assistant District Attorney because she “loves criminal prosecution!” She is a graduate of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and the Seton Hall University School of Law. Carmen also studied at Elon University and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Following graduation from Seton Hall she clerked for the Honorable Rudolph A. Filko of the New Jersey Superior Court Criminal Division, Passaic Vicinage. She is a certified New Jersey Superior Court mediator and at the time she ended her clerkship Carmen was lauded as one of the most successful landlord-tenant and small claims dispute mediators in the Vicinage. The Berks County native keeps very busy with group exercise, volunteering for the Miss America Organization, traveling, singing, attending church, and spending time with friends and family.
BRIAN S. KULP
Currently seeking employment is Susanna Fultz, a graduate of the University of Delaware and of Washington & Lee University Law School. She has worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Sue’s hobbies include world travel, historical fiction and softball. Another new Assistant District Attorney is Brian S. Kulp, who previously worked at Kulp Chiropractic, Inc., Weidenhammer Systems in accounting and business management, Berk-Tek, the United States Air Force and the United States Coast Guard. He graduated from Alvernia University and Widener University School of Law in Delaware. Brian enjoys hunting whitetail deer in Pennsylvania as well as boating and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. He and his wife, Dr. Donna Kulp, have five children: Matthew, 33; Steven, 31; Isaac, 18; Simeon, 16; and Noah, 11. The new Assistant Public Defender is Christopher C. Muvdi, who had worked as a certified intern with the Berks County District Attorney’s Office. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut and his Juris Doctorate at the University of Baltimore School of Law. While in law school, Chris participated in the school’s Family Law Clinic, representing indigent clients, and also interned at A Baby Step Adoption, assisting Barbara Binder Casey, Esquire. His hobbies include softball, working out and being an avid Philadelphia sports fan.
CHRISTOPHER C. MUVDI
MAXWELL C. NICE
Maxwell C. Nice is a contract attorney at Leisawitz Heller Abramowitch Phillips, P.C. concentrating on estate planning and administration, corporate and tax law. He previously interned for the Honorable Thomas E. Flaherty of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and served a Judicial Fellowship with the Honorable Richard E. Fehling of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Max, an alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh and of the Duquesne University School of Law, enjoys golf, tennis, hiking and traveling. He is engaged to Megan E. Brown, and they plan to marry on June 28, 2014. Elba N. Serrano-Torres is an associate with Hartman Shurr where her practice focuses on creditors’ rights, banking, bankruptcy, commercial law and civil litigation. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and her Juris Doctorate from Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. Elba served as a judicial law clerk for the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, Florida, and then she worked as an associate in a Tallahassee firm, representing financial institutional clients for four years. Elba is licensed to practice in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. She resides in Exeter Township with her eight-year-old son, Cy. When not busy with her son, Elba enjoys reading and knitting.
ELBA N. SERRANOTORRES
JOSHUA J. VOSS
A new associate at Conrad O’Brien, P.C. in Harrisburg is Joshua J. Voss, a Wyomissing resident. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and of the Drexel University School of Law. Josh currently practices in the areas of commercial litigation, the Right-to-Know Law, appellate work primarily before the Commonwealth Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as well as representing state agencies and officials in the Commonwealth Court’s original jurisdiction. He is married to Tricia, a Wilson High grad, and they have two sons, Carter, 5, and Ryan, 2. Josh’s hobbies are golf, handy man work around the house and yard, listening to talk radio and podcasts, jogging, and spending time with family and friends.
Berks Barrister | 21
Past President Fred Hatt and wife, Janice
Members and their guests enjoyed a reception and dinner in the Batdorf Room and Kittrell Suite of the Bar Building prior to attending the Berks Jazz Festâ€™s Opening Concert with Boney James
Secretary Jim Smith and his son, Jamin
Vice President Jill Koestel and husband, Robert
Marc Sigal with guest, Stephanie Knarr
The always serious Keith Mooney and James Mancuso
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Linda Epes and husband, William
President-Elect Jesse Pleet and his guest, Karen Schupak
Carmen Bloom (R) and her mother
Jana Barnett and Marcia Binder
Board Director and Judge, Tim Rowley, and his wife, Barbara Andy and Ann Howe with President Tom Bell
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LEGAL SPIRITS HAPPY HOUR
On February 6 members came together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles coming to America and being on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was a spirited respite from a terrible winter.
A Trio of Judges (L-R): Federal Judge Schmehl and Common Pleas Judges Fudeman and Rowley
The one and only Liz Ebner
John Stott and Jim Greene
Past President Heidi Masano and Doug Rauch
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Jason Glessner and Joe Speece
Kevin Moore and Andy Howe Chef and Bartender Joe serving in style
Law Journal Editor Eric Taylor and Board Director George Gonzalez
Tom Anewalt and Michelle Rhizor Jacquelin Hamer John T. Forry Laura Readinger and Julie â€œI never miss a bar eventâ€? Marburger
Kurt Althouse, Kurt Geishauser and Judge Lieberman
Berks Barrister | 25
Members enjoyed watching their brackets blow-up at the Third & Spruce
Enjoying the wings with soda (L-R): Laura Readinger, Mike Wieder, Osmer Deming and Julie Marburger
Bill Blumer and Frank Mulligan
26 | Berks Barrister
Hosts Jay Kurtz and Chad Rick
The TheSafeGuards SafeGuards program program is is aa unique, unique, local, local,full fullcontinuum continuum of of foster foster care, care, designed designedto totreat treat sexualized sexualized children children and andadolescents adolescents who who cannot cannot remain remain with withor orreturn returnto to their their legal legal family. family. SafeGuards SafeGuardsprovides: provides: Analternative alternativeto toresidential residential youth youth • An services services
Specializedservices services for for intellectually intellectually • Specialized developmentallydelayed delayed youth youth && &&developmentally adolescents;and andgeneralized generalized delinquent delinquent adolescents; issues issues • Continuum Continuumofofservices servicesincluding: including: diagnostic disgnostictesting, testing,individual, individual, family family &&group grouptherapy, therapy,risk riskassessment, assessment, psychiatric/medication psychiatric/medicationevaluation evaluation&& life life skills skillstraining training
• AAnewly-opened newly-openedSupportive SupportiveIndependent Independent Living LivingProgram Programfor foremerging emerging adult adult transitional transitionalassistance asistance
safeguardsfostercare.webs.com 610.372.1484 220 N. 5th Street I Reading, PA
An affiliate of Pennsylvania Forensics Associates
P A R T N E R
W I T H
O U R
T E A M
• COMMERCIAL LINES OF CREDIT • COMMERCIAL TERM LOANS • COMMERCIAL MORTGAGES • RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGES • PRIVATE BANKING
Bob Showalter Vice President & Commercial Lending Officer 484.334.4918 Georgette Krick Assistant Vice President & Private Banking Officer 484.334.9944
WHAT YOU WANT YOUR BANK TO BE Berks Barrister | 27
Health Care Reform offers an opportunity for employers to rethink how health care benefits should be designed and delivered.
We’re experts at benefits consulting. We’ll perform a Health Care Reform Readiness Analysis for your organization. • We’ll review your existing benefit programs and determine which will be affected by the health care reform provisions now and in the future.
– Mark Kunkle
There will be dramatic changes in the future of the employee benefits landscape. Is your company prepared and complying with new regulations? What do you need to know? What plan do you have in place? Are you heading in the right direction? Contact us today. We’ve gained the confidence of
over 450 local employers.
• We’ll determine the financial impact of healthcare reform to your organization. We’ll steer you in the right direction and help you implement your company’s health care reform strategy.
610-685-1790 | www.pkbenefits.com | 999 Berkshire Blvd., Wyomissing L E A D E R S H I P | S U P P O R T | S O L U T I O N S