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ACLU-PA Goes Back to Court on Behalf of People Who Are Too Ill to Stand Trial

March 19, 2019
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HARRISBURG - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania returned to federal court today in a new filing against the state Department of Human Services (DHS), more than three years after first bringing a lawsuit on behalf of people who have been found too mentally ill to stand trial but who are housed in jails instead of healthcare facilities. The new complaint argues that DHS’s implementation of previous settlements in the case has failed to produce constitutionally acceptable results, with some patients remaining in jails for months at a time.

Category: Criminal Justice
Tag: Case-J.H.

ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Law Firm of Arnold & Porter Announce Lawsuit Over Bail Practices in Philadelphia

March 12, 2019
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PHILADELPHIA — On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the law firm of Arnold & Porter announced that they have filed a new lawsuit to bring bail practices in Philadelphia courts in line with the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The lawsuit states that bail decisions in Philadelphia County rely too heavily on cash bail without considering alternatives that have been proven more effective than cash bail and don’t effectively punish people for being poor.

Category: Criminal Justice

ACLU Urges Pa. Supreme Court to Find Death Penalty Unconstitutional

February 22, 2019
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PHILADELPHIA — The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a friend-of-the-court brief today asking the state Supreme Court to hold Pennsylvania’s capital punishment system in violation of the state constitution, given the vast disparities across the commonwealth in the quality of representation for capital case defendants who are unable to pay.

Civil Rights Groups and PA Department of Corrections Near Settlement of Lawsuit Over Legal Mail

February 22, 2019
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HARRISBURG – Lawyers for four civil rights organizations and one person who is currently incarcerated announced today that they are finalizing the details of a settlement of their lawsuits challenging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ policy of copying and storing legal mail. The four organizations challenging the policy issued the following statement in response to the developments in the case:

Category: Prisoners' Rights

Trial Begins in Challenge to State Prisons’ Legal Mail Policy

February 19, 2019
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HARRISBURG - The trial in two lawsuits challenging the Pennsylvania state prison system’s policy of copying and storing mail between lawyers and their clients who are incarcerated began today in a federal courtroom in Harrisburg. The two lawsuits - one brought by four prisoners’ rights organizations and the other by a person who is incarcerated - ask the court to overturn the practice by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) as a violation of the confidentiality guaranteed between lawyers and their clients, as protected by the First Amendment.

Category: Prisoners' Rights
Tag: Case-PILP

With New Rule, DACA Recipients can be Lawyers in Pennsylvania

February 14, 2019
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HARRISBURG - A new rule issued last week by the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners ensures that participants in the federal government’s DACA program can be admitted to the commonwealth’s bar and cannot be denied a law license based on their immigration status. The rule comes more than a year after the bar admitted its first DACA recipient, Parthiv Patel, who was initially denied his license to practice law in 2016, despite graduating from law school and passing the Pennsylvania bar exam.

ACLU of PA Sues Judge Who Called ICE on Couple’s Wedding Day

February 14, 2019
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HARRISBURG - The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal civil rights lawsuit today against a magisterial district judge and a court officer in Cumberland County who illegally held Alex Parker on his wedding day in 2017. After Parker presented a consular ID to court staff, Judge Elizabeth Beckley and the court officer detained him in order to summon and await federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to investigate his immigration status.   

Category: Immigrants' Rights

Latest Court Filing Shows Race Still Plays a Role in Stops and Frisks by Police in Philadelphia

November 27, 2018
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PHILADELPHIA – In every neighborhood in Philadelphia, Black pedestrians were stopped by police officers out of proportion to their percentage of the local population, according to the latest report filed in federal court today in the ongoing challenge to the city police department’s aggressive use of stop-and-frisk. The latest filing shows that racial disparities in stops are widest in neighborhoods in which Black Philadelphians make up a lower percentage of the population and that the disparities cannot be explained by factors other than race.

After Seven Years, Report Shows Philadelphia Police Continue to Illegally Stop and Frisk Pedestrians

November 20, 2018
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PHILADELPHIA – The latest report filed today by counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit challenging unconstitutional practices of the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) shows that thousands of people were stopped and frisked without a legal reason in the first six months of 2018. 

Voting Rights Advocates Sue Pennsylvania to End Disenfranchisement of Absentee Voters

November 13, 2018
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HARRISBURG, PA. – Voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit today challenging a Pennsylvania law that makes it difficult for voters to vote by absentee ballot.  The plaintiffs include nine Pennsylvania residents, all of whom applied for absentee ballots on time but received the ballots either too close to or after Pennsylvania’s restrictive deadline for returning the ballots.  

Category: Voting Issues
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