Cornerstone case granted appeal by SCOTUS

In 2020, Cornerstone Law Firm attorney David Crossett represented a mail carrier from Lancaster named Gerald Groff. Mr. Groff sued the United States Postal Service for their failure to accommodate his religious beliefs regarding working on Sundays. The case eventually ruled in favor of the USPS, citing a precedent set by the 1977 Supreme Court case “Trans World Airlines v. Harding.”

Mr. Groff later brought the case before the Supreme Court and asked them to reconsider the original ruling from the Harding case. His case was the 4th in recent years to push back on Harding’s precedent, and SCOTUS has granted certiorari in regards to this case. (Certiorari is the process of a higher court reviewing a decision made by a lower court.)

The SCOTUS appeal is not being handled by a Cornerstone attorney, but we are interested to see how this plays out as the original case was brought to trial by one of our own. It’s rare that a case is heard by the Supreme Court, as they only review about 60 cases per year. Depending on the ruling, Groff v. DeJoy has the potential to set a new precedent for similar religious liberty cases.

If you’re interested in learning more about this case, here are some resources:

SCOTUS Blog Post #1

SCOTUS Blog Post #2

SCOTUS Blog Post #3

Advisory Opinions Podcast

An early press release about this case

Victory for Attorney Eric Winter

Yesterday in Lebanon County Attorney Eric Winter won a jury trial on an assault case on behalf of one of our clients. The case had lingered for nearly a year before the jury trial occurred and involved claims of domestic violence between a girlfriend and boyfriend. This was a classic case of he said/she said. This case carried serious consequences for our client if found guilty: charges of this nature could be either misdemeanor or felony charges and could have changed our client’s life permanently.

After excellent cross examination and demonstration from text messages that the fight was started by the individual claiming to be the victim, Attorney Winter was able to demonstrate to the jury that there was not enough evidence for a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. This was a complete win for our client and a testament to Attorney Eric Winter’s twenty-three years of experience as a Berks County criminal defense attorney. It was also Attorney Winter’s fastest jury verdict to date. His client was acquitted in just 18 minutes.

As with all such cases the details of the case are vital to the outcome. From carefully interpreting and explaining the physical evidence to the jury to clarifying the implications of the digital evidence in the form of text messages, Eric Winter, of Cornerstone Law Firm, was able to reveal the truth of this matter to the ladies and gentleman of the jury. In addition to the details in this case, there were significant strategic decisions which shaped the scope of the evidence which the jury was allowed to see.

If you find yourself wrongly charged with a crime, you will want an attorney who has the experience, understands the details, and possesses the wisdom to make the crucial strategic decisions which will help you find justice. Please Call Cornerstone Law Firm if you’ve been charged with a crime, so that you can discuss your case and learn how best to defend yourself at a trial.

September 2022 Update

This month Cornerstone Law Firm has added two new lawyers to our team. Craig Browne joins our firm to assist in general litigation, contract drafting, document review and more. Attorney Browne’s background includes substantial writing, motions practice and other drafting. Attorney Browne will be handling a broad range of cases including criminal law, family law, personal injury and more.

Federica Caloia received her favorable bar results last week, and joins the firm after an excellent academic career which recently concluded at Ave Maria School of Law. Attorney Caloia is an excellent writer and has a deep interest for understanding the public policy underpinning statutes and the common law. She will be assisting with matters ranging from criminal law to civil motions practice and more.

Our attorneys have worked hard this month to settle several personal injury cases arising from motors vehicle accidents and slip and falls caused by the negligence of others. These personal injury cases involve looking through medical records, determining the value of injuries, negotiating with insurance adjusters and company representatives as well as representatives of city governments who may be responsible for broken sidewalks or other defects that cause injuries.

Attorney Rauch-Mannino has worked hard this month to settle custody disputes, litigate divorces and work out appropriate equitable distribution for spouses going through difficult times.

Attorney Ready has finished several trials recently and is working on defending appeals brought by the other side of several cases. In addition to doing writing work on these appeals, Attorney Ready has been handling preliminary objection arguments, which is the beginning of the pleadings process for civil cases.

Attorney Distasio has handled a number of landlord tenant cases at Magisterial District Courts across Pennsylvania, as well as an oral argument on a breach of contract case in Pittsburgh.

Finally, all of our attorneys have been providing advice to business owners and landlords, helping them to navigate everything from tax issues to debt collection and more. If you have questions about a legal issue, contact the lawyers at Cornerstone Law Firm today for a consultation.

Eric Winter joins Cornerstone Law Firm

Cornerstone Law Firm is pleased to announce the addition to our team of Eric Winter. Attorney Winter is highly regarded in the legal community and has several decades of experience handling a broad range of administrative law, criminal cases, immigration and more. Attorney Winter has handled over 100 jury trials and brings his passion for courtroom justice to the team.

Attorney Winter does more hunting law than anybody else in Pennsylvania and is one of the busiest immigration attorneys in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Eric has also done extensive work in family and civil cases, including tortes such as defamation, invasion of privacy and more. Eric’s knowledge of federal firearms law also allows him to help with gun rights restoration questions and similar areas. Cornerstone Law Firm is please to welcome Eric to the team.

August 2022 Review

This month the attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm have been busy with:

  • landlord/tenant actions all over the state
  • personal injury cases that are settling and going to court
  • insurance disputes
  • contractor fights
  • a trade secrets and corporate freeze-out trial

Attorney Stephanie Rauch-Mannino has spent much of her month working out final custody arrangements for families that are splitting up, challenging a post nuptial agreement for unfairness, litigating the proper amount of child support to be paid to a single mom and working on a final distribution of assets in several divorces.

Attorney Tony Distasio has been handling landlord/tenant work for Section 8 clients, where evictions are based on everything from unpaid rent to allegations of criminal misconduct and violence. Attorney Distasio has been everywhere from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia this month as part of hearings on these issues.

Attorney Carl Carrero has been writing briefs and motions and has been to court to handle a request for a delay of a sheriff sale. As sheriff sales pickup and foreclosures continue, Attorney Carrero and the Cornerstone Law Firm team are expecting to see more last-minute litigation over attempts to sell houses after foreclosure.

Attorney Joel Ready began the month handling a 2-week trial on a claim regarding trade secrets and a fight over corporate ownership of a large company. From there, he has handled several contract disputes. He has also been finalizing a few guilty plea agreements in the last 2 weeks to ensure the best possible deal for individuals facing criminal charges.

Finally, the whole staff at Cornerstone Law Firm has been working to ensure that clients’ wills are being drafted, contracts are getting signed, deeds are being drawn up and filed, and that clients are getting quick responses to their concerns. If you have a question about your legal issue, call Cornerstone Law Firm today so we can help you.

May 2021 Update

May 2021 has been filled with trials and advanced litigation for the attorneys of Cornerstone Law Firm. On the civil side, attorney Joel Ready spent time litigating a partnership dispute in Lehigh County court, giving advice to several businesses to avoid personnel and human resources litigation, promulgating discovery in personal injury cases based in Berks County and preparing for a summer of trials. A number of Cornerstone Law’s criminal clients were able to obtain trial dates this month, allowing them to finally pursue their innocence in a proceeding before a jury.

On the transactional side, several businesses hired Cornerstone Law Firm to draft contracts and to create new bylaws and other operating agreements for their businesses and nonprofits. These ranged from employment agreements to more complex inter-business cooperation agreements, and also agreements to resolve potential areas of dispute between rival businesses.

Attorney Crossett has been involved in several mediation for personal injury clients, obtaining settlement for car accident victims and those injured in other accidents. Furthermore, Attorney Crossett has finalized complex land deals this month for clients with conflicting real estate claims.

At Cornerstone Law Firm we are happy that the world is slowly getting back to normal, and we are looking forward to the nice weather in the summer months!

January 2021 Update

Attorney David Crossett has continued working through personal injury claims for car accident victims in Reading, Pennsylvania this month. Speaking of clients who are concerned about whether their car insurance was sufficient during a car accident, Attorney Crossett explains: “Clients who are ‘limited tort’ should not assume their insurance will not cover their injuries, especially when the injuries are catastrophic. We don’t want to see clients give up their rights in those situations.” Attorney Crossett’s work has also included mediation with judges in attempts to help clients resolve their conflicts outside of court.

Meanwhile, Attorney Joel Ready has been handling a number of civil rights matters, including for violations of the 1st Amendment. “Harassment claims, in particular, bring an important legal issue into the crosshairs,” Attorney Ready explains. As part of his work in this area, Attorney Ready appeared on WFMZ to speak about the First Amendment’s application to private life and employment issues.

Finally, Tim Crossett, Cornerstone’s Firm Administrator, has been working on the launch of the all new web-show, “Business in Berks,” a series of interviews with local business owners about the challenges of 2020 and beyond. The show goes live in February on our youtube channel.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys and staff are hoping that 2021 is more pleasant for the world than its predecessor! We look forward to helping you in the coming year.

Attorney Crossett Wins Landlord Tenant Trial in Dauphin County

This month, Attorney Crossett successfully prosecuted a landlord tenant case in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania and finalized the eviction of a tenant who had refused to pay rent and threatened other tenants. Because every county has their own rules regarding how a trial for a landlord tenant matter is conducted, this trial was done in front of a jury.  

Landlord tenant cases have become more complicated here in Pennsylvania due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and Governor Wolf’s orders prohibiting evictions during the summer. This order did not apply to those evictions which had begun before the COVID-19 pandemic which includes cases such as this one. However, for cases which have arisen since that time, the road remains complicated.

“We pride ourselves on being able to help clients walk through the various state and federal regulations surrounding evictions during the pandemic,” said David Crossett, who represents a number of landlords of various sizes.

Contact Us

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we help clients dealing with landlord tenant issues every day. We have helped tenants who are being wrongfully evicted and landlords who needed to evict someone who is a danger to other tenants. If you have questions about your landlord tenant situation, call us today so that we can help you figure out the solution to your problems.

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

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.