Resisting Arrest and Contraband Drug Charges Dismissed in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania

This summer, Cornerstone Law Firm’s Joel Ready successfully obtained the dismissal of contraband drug charges, terroristic threats, and resisting arrest charges for a client in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania after habeas corpus proceedings. 

Part of the charges were based on a claim that the individual involved had fought with an officer while he was being arrested. But Attorney Ready was able to demonstrate that the arrest was unlawful to begin with, and so the charges were dismissed. The rest of the charges were based on a claim that the defendant had intentionally taken drugs into the Schuylkill County prison in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

Despite allegedly having eye-witness testimony to the defense possession of the drugs, the Commonwealth was forced to withdraw the charges this week after Cornerstone Law’s team demonstrated that there were someone else’s fingerprints on the drugs. These revelations came as a result of a discovery motion made by Attorney Ready as part of an Omnibus Pretrial Motion.

“This case illustrates the importance of defendants being willing to fight for their rights and challenge charges rather than simply taking the best plea deal available,” attorney Ready explained. 

Contact Us

Every case is different, and good results for one person don’t necessarily mean good results in your case. However, if you’re facing criminal charges in Schuylkill County or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, contact Cornerstone Law Firm to speak with a criminal defense attorney about how to deal with your case.

 

 

 

Time, Place and Manner Restrictions on the First Amendment

In previous posts, we have discussed the importance of the First Amendment. We have also discussed that speech is not always just speech — it can also be conduct. Today, we are going to talk about legitimate government restrictions on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. One such restriction established in case law decided by the Supreme Court of the United States is restrictions on time, place and manner of speech.

What is a “Time, Place & Manner” Restriction?

Time, place and manner restrictions include regulations of when, where and how someone speaks. For example, a school may tell its students that they may not discuss politics during class. A state court may require that no one say anything at all in a court room unless they are an attorney or a witness on the stand. Some government buildings prohibit any sort of protest or speech within the buildings themselves, allowing the government workers to work unimpeded by any sort of disruptions around them. (For example, you can’t march into Fort Knox and demand the right to protest.) These are all examples of time, place and manner restrictions. 

There are a few requirements to sustain a time, place and manner restriction in court. If challenged, the government entity must be able to show that these restrictions are “narrowly tailored” to achieve a “significant governmental interest.” For example, the school district that says that its students may not engage in any political speech at all during the entire school day, whether in or out of classes because it is worried about distractions in the classroom, is probably guilty of an overboard restriction that would not be sustained by a court. The goal of a good education may be a significant government interest, but there are less restrict ways to achieve that goal. The school might be able to require that students not talk while in certain types of classes that have nothing to do with politics, for example, while leaving them free to discuss their views throughout the rest of the day. 

“Content Neutral” Restrictions

restrictions to the first amendment

Another important point is that a restriction must be applied equally across the board and must be “content neutral.” In other words, a school that says that students may not talk about religion during specific classes but allows discussion of any other sort of philosophy or politics is violating the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Similarly, if a courtroom was to say that no one can protest out in front of the court, but then allows specific demonstrations for increased government salaries inside, this would be an example of discrimination against speech based on content. In these cases, the supposed time, place and manner restriction is just an illegal attempt by the government to restrict speech that it does not find appealing. 

What Do You Do if Your Rights are Violated?

What do you do if your rights are violated by a time, place, and manner restriction? There are various types of civil rights lawsuits available to you. Figuring out whether a time, place and manner restriction is an appropriate restriction of speech is a complicated process and requires careful analysis of the challenged regulation, the case law that has been decided on these topics, and sometimes even what you desire to say. In future blog posts on this topic, we are going to cover other restrictions on the First Amendment that the government may pass.

If you’re dealing with an infringement on your First Amendment rights, call us today to discuss your case.

Motorcycle Injury: What to Do When You Have Been Injured in Berks County, Pennsylvania

When you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, the injuries can be catastrophic. Every serious rider knows that no matter how safe you are, and no matter carefully you abide by the rules of the road and accepted safety practices, the risk of injury is an ever present danger. When you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, what are your first steps and what should you do?

1. Submit Your Medical Bills to Your Motorcycle Insurance.

This first step often confuses people. It is important that you submit your medical bills directly to your own motorcycle insurance carrier. This step in the process often surprises the victims of accidents, because it seems like the other party should be paying the medical bills. Don’t worry! We will get to that later.

However, when you are first injured, your insurance provides you with something called PIP coverage (Personal Injury Protection). This coverage is designed to make sure that you can immediately get medical treatment right after an accident without having any money spent out of pocket. State law requires you to have at least $5,000 in PIP coverage, and you have been paying for it as part of your insurance, so there is no reason not to use it now when you need it. By opening a claim and having your medical bills submitted straight to your motorcycle insurance carrier, you will (hopefully) avoid racking up medical expenses at the beginning of this process. 

2. Get Treatment!

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, this next tip may not be that difficult to abide by. Nonetheless, it is extremely important that you get medical treatment for all of your injuries. There is no point in being tough about any sort of vehicle accident. Your injuries will not just get better on their own in most cases. This is particularly true of unseen injuries, such as torn ligaments and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

The danger of concussions is only now becoming a matter of general awareness, largely due to the news surrounding the National Football League and other professional sports. If you have been diagnosed with a concussion or are experiencing the effects of an impact to your head, which is not uncommon after a motorcycle accident, it is extremely important that you see a doctor, a specialist and anyone to whom they refer you. 

You may have to live with the effects of a traumatic brain injury for much of the rest of your life. Accordingly, the medical records demonstrating such an injury are an important part of demonstrating the severity of your claim and your entitlement to an appropriate financial settlement with the insurance companies. 

3. Call A Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Motorcycle Accident

Finally, it is extremely important that you talk to a personal injury attorney right away after your motorcycle accident. It does not matter if you know the full extent of your injuries. You can still talk to a personal injury attorney about your case. At Cornerstone Law Firm, your consultation is free, and we do not get paid until you get paid. We’re here to help, so call us today.

Contract Cases in Federal Court

When your business is sued in federal court, it can be a strange and surprising experience. A common question that we receive from business owners is, “How can my business be sued in federal court over a contract? Isn’t federal court just for crimes and serious litigation?”

How it Works

In most cases, federal cases over contracts are brought because one party is from a different state than the opposing party and there is more than $75,000 in damages that are at issue in the lawsuit. In other words, your first instinct might be right: a contract case only enters the federal court because it is a pretty big deal. 

Beyond this, contract cases in federal court are much different than contract cases in state court. A breach of contract action requires that the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) demonstrate that the defendant violated the terms of an agreement. This agreement doesn’t have to necessarily be written (although it usually is when there is a lot of money at stake). 

Several defenses to contract actions exist, including proof that the contract was impossible to perform or that the plaintiff violated the contract first. In rare cases, the contract itself might violate state or federal law, which means it cannot be enforced in court.

More About Federal Court Cases

Cases in federal court should be taken seriously because they tend to move quickly. This is especially true of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, often referred to as “the rocket docket” because of the speed with which the cases move to trial. In other words, if you are not preparing from day one, you are not going to be ready by the time the case gets to the summary judgement phase and to trial. 

Contact Cornerstone Law Firm

If you or your business has been sued in federal court, it is important to seek litigation attorneys who can handle your case. Contact the Cornerstone Law Firm and speak with our experienced federal litigators to discuss your options in moving forward and how you can best defend your case.

Harassment Charges in Berks County Dismissed – March 2020

Last month, Attorney Joel Ready obtained dismissal of harassment charges in Berks County. The charges had been filed against a defendant over an alleged dispute with an ex-girlfriend. After oral argument in front of a Berks County Magisterial District Judge, the charges were dropped completely. The charges were filed in the Bernville area “upon information received” by a State Trooper, which means that the Trooper was filing the charges based on what the alleged victim told him. 

“We’re glad to see these charges dismissed,” Attorney Ready says. “This case shows, once again, the importance of being prepared to fight charges and not merely plead guilty to avoid the trouble of litigation.” 

More About Harassment Charges

Harassment is a summary offense under Pennsylvania Law, which means that it comes with a fine and potential confinement up to ninety (90) days in prison. In some circumstances, harassment charges can also result in higher penalties, including a misdemeanor conviction. Harassment requires that the Commonwealth prove that the defendant either physically assaulted or repeatedly annoyed someone with no legitimate purpose.

Harassment charges do go on your permanent record, although, if they are a summary offense it is not considered a “criminal record.” Nonetheless, potential employers, family members, friends, neighbors and others can find that you were found guilty of these charges if you plead guilty to them.

Contact Us Today

It is important to speak with an experienced criminal offense attorney about harassment charges so the attorney can help you decide whether you should challenge the charges or not. Contact Cornerstone Law Firm today for more information.

Right of Partition

When you own land with someone else and you stop getting along with that person, what can you do? Especially when someone owns a large piece of investment property with someone else, it can be very difficult to figure out how to work with someone who doesn’t want to spend the money to keep the property up or who doesn’t have the same vision as you do for the future of the property. Here are two ways that you can handle a real estate dispute with a co-owner:

1. A Written Agreement Between the Parties

The most obvious and best way of approaching a problem like this is a written agreement with your co-owner that clearly lays out the responsibilities of each party. Whether the property is making money or not, a written agreement can help to clarify how much money each party is required to put into the property and how profits will be split up. 

You might think that a 50/50 agreement is the simplest way to handle something like this but often, it’s not. Perhaps one party is willing to make the financial investment into the property to clean it up or improve it, but expects a higher percentage of the returns in exchange. And what do you do if one party wants out during an up year for the property? How much do you have to pay them? Can one owner force the other to take a fair buy-out offer?

Drafting a clear agreement means thinking about possibilities that you may not want to consider, but in our experience, figuring this out now will save you pain and money down the line. Indeed, just having an agreement sometimes helps avoid breakups and keeps all parties involved happy with the investment that they’re making in the property.

2. A Partition Action

Unfortunately, many parties don’t start talking about these issues until a conflict has already arisen. If you’re in this boat, don’t panic! There is still a legal way to get out of the situation. In this case, you can either divide the property in two, or have a court order that it be sold and have the profits of the sale split between the owners.

How do you split a property in two? You can do this by reviewing the technical drawings for the buildings or property and agreeing to a line drawn through the property along an appropriate dividing line. In some cases, the parties can agree to give a valuable but small piece to one side and leave a larger but equally valuable piece to the other party. This process typically involves lawyers, appraisers, real estate agents, and brokers to find the proper balance.

But in many cases, the best remedy is for the parties to agree to sell the property. But what if the other party doesn’t want to sell? What if they think that the status quo is working out just fine? Or, what if vindictively, they just want to keep you from benefiting from the property?

In that case, you can petition a court for an order to sell the property in lieu of having it partitioned. In other words, if you prevail in proving that the property is not going to be usable or valuable if it’s split in two, you can have a court order the property sold the open market. At that point, they’ll usually come to the negotiating table. If they want to keep the property, they’ll have to put up fair market value for your half.

Trust an Experienced Real Estate Attorney with Your Concerns

If you have a problem like this with real estate, you should contact an experienced real estate attorney. Partition actions can be complicated, and there are many issues to consider. If you have questions about your situation, contact Cornerstone Law Firm, and let’s discuss how we can help you.

Berks County Defendant Found “Not Guilty” in School Bus Charge

This past January, Attorney Ready obtained a “not guilty” verdict for a client charged with running a school bus stop sign. The ruling came at the end of a summary trial, which was on appeal in the Court of Common Pleas in Reading, Pennsylvania. 

Violation of the school bus statute carries serious fines and, more importantly, a mandatory sixty (60) day license suspension from PennDOT. In this case, the defendant was convicted in the Magisterial District Court, and retained Cornerstone Law Firm to handle her appeal. On Monday, January 27, 2020, in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania, the individual charged in this case was acquitted on all charges after a bench trial. 

Details of the Case

A major crux of this particular trial was the speed with which the “stop arm” extended on the bus, and what amount of time the driver had to stop since she was already passing the bus when the stop sign came out. In cross-examination of the bus driver, it was further revealed that the stop sign was put out at the last minute as the driver was already approaching and passing. Based on caselaw, Attorney Ready was able to demonstrate that the defendant in this case was not legally liable for passing the bus.

We’re Here to Help

Every case is different, and no one else’s results are a guarantee about your case. However, whether you are charged with traffic tickets or criminal charges in Berks County, Pennsylvania, it is important to have a litigation attorney who can help you.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we help clients every single day with their criminal charges. Call us today for a consultation regarding your case and whether you would be best advised to go to trial, seek a plea agreement, or seek another resolution of your charges.

Cornerstone Law Firm in the Greater Reading Merchandiser

Cornerstone Law Firm is honored to serve the Berks County, Pennsylvania and beyond. We’re happy to solve your legal problems, even through the uncertainty and stress of the current coronavirus (COVID-19).

In this month’s Greater Reading Merchandiser, we’re sharing a little bit about ourselves and what we’re doing to make sure your legal needs are still met! Check out are ad:

april 2020 merchandiser

For more information about how we can serve you, contact us today!

What is the Common Fund Doctrine?

The “common fund doctrine” is an important equitable rule of law that personal injury attorneys employ to maximize an injured person’s overall recovery. When you have been injured in a car accident, a truck crash, or some other motor vehicle accident and your medical bills are paid by a health insurer, the common fund doctrine is likely to factor in your total financial recovery. 

In simple terms, in every personal injury case, the injured victims who has to retain an attorney ends up paying part of the recovery to that attorney in exchange for their services. The injured victim can usually deduct the same percentage from the reimbursement to medical providers.

What to Know about Common Fund Doctrine

When someone is injured, their health insurance often pays the bills after the Personal Injury Protection (PIP coverage) is exhausted. This creates a medical lien against the ultimate recovery of money as a result of the injury. So, do you have to pay the full amount of that lien? This is where the common fund doctrine comes in.

The common fund doctrine is a common law, equitable remedy that allows a court to diminish the share of the lien holder’s recovery by the percentage of that recovery that’s attributable to the attorney that brought about the financial recovery. 

We say this is equitable, meaning it is meant to be fair. The lien holders, who would not have been paid back without the attorney’s efforts, should also have to pick up part of the tab for that attorney’s work. As a result, somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of a medical lien can typically be written off and given directly back to the injured party in recognition of the fact that they’ve had to bear the cost of attorneys’ fees.

We can help

Dealing with medical liens is only one part of the complexity of a personal injury case. If you’ve been in a car accident, call the Cornerstone Law Firm and speak with one of our injury attorneys. We don’t get paid until you get paid, and we can offer you a free consultation on the likelihood of a recovery in your case.

February 2020 Recap

What were we up to in February 2020? Our attorneys have been working hard at settling cases and resolving conflicts on behalf of our clients. 

Attorney David Crossett

Attorney David Crossett has been working on a number of personal injury cases in Berk’s County, Pennsylvania. He is helping victims involved in car accidents to receive repayment of their medical bills, lost wages and compensation for their pain and suffering. Most of the personal injury cases he has worked on this month have been cases that are preparing settle based on a demand with the insurance company outside of court. Attorney Crossett also made national news last month, in this case representing Gerald Groff, a U.S. postal worker who is suing his former employer for violations of his first amendment rights. Attorney Crossett has also been deeply involved in a lawsuit in Bucks County over an insurance company refusing to pay for the enormous damage done to someone’s property when a truck ran into their house. 

Attorney Joel Ready

Attorney Joel Ready has resolved several criminal cases with favorable plea deals and another criminal case after a trial in front of a judge in Reading, Pennsylvania. Attorney Ready has also been advising one of our Section 8 Housing clients regarding complaints they’ve received about their facility. Finally, Attorney Ready has successfully settled a personal injury claim for an individual who was injured in a car accident located in the Reading area. 

That’s a quick glimpse at our work in the month of February. We hope you’ve had a great month as well. As always if you have questions about your legal concerns call us at Cornerstone Law Firm.