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Both the Democratic Governor and Republican legislators are proposing to increase the sales tax and, for the first time, apply it to legal services.  Providing legal representation is not a commodity.  It is not a luxury.  For many Pennsylvanians, hiring an attorney is a necessity.  Do not be misled to think that this is a tax on lawyers. It is instead a tax on clients.

Access to justice is a basic constitutional right that should not be taxed and treated as a commodity.  Increasing the cost of effective legal representation by imposing a sales tax impacts people of limited means.  The public should not tolerate this added cost to protect its rights under the law. It will hurt people who are already hurting and in need of legal assistance.

Please reach out to your state legislators to ask them to vote AGAINST this proposed tax.  While we appreciate the need to change the way we fund our schools and lessen the burden of property taxes on individuals, taxing legal services is not the way to go.  You may use the links below to find the email address for your legislators and to contact the governor.  Even a short message expressing opposition is important and effective!

Click here to find your legislator.

Click here to then contact your state senator.

Click here to then contact your state representative.

Click here to then e-mail Governor Wolf. 

Looking for a Lawyer?

Have you just been served with a complaint seeking to foreclose on your home or to change the child custody arrangement or to evict you from your apartment?  Or are you considering bankruptcy?

You need to consult with an attorney.  Our members are skilled attorneys who can fight for your rights, draft valid legal documents and stand by you in the courtroom.  Don’t be misled by television ads for online legal forms.  Notaries and petition preparers cannot give legal advice or accompany you to court.  And “do-it-yourself” law is a fast lane to disaster.   Our members know Pennsylvania law, are available for personal consultations and are accountable to you. 

If you feel overwhelmed looking for the attorney right for you, go here for more information on what the Berks County Bar Association can do for you.


Foreclosure Mediation Program Continues

The Berks County Bar Association, in conjunction with the Berks County Courts and Neighborhood Housing Services, have created a program by which those threatened with the loss of their home can seek relief. The program began January 1 and is continuing.  Those served with a complaint in a consumer debt or home mortgage case may take advantage of the program.

Read More› for a description of the program.

The program is also explained on a recent "Ask a Lawyer" television show. Go here to view the program. As of July 16, 216 cases have requested to participate. Go here for a detailed update.


Interview: China tortured leading rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng

[JURIST] In his first interview since being released from prison to house arrest in August 2014, leading Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng told the Associated Press [AP report] that he was subject to torture. Zhisheng revealed that while he was held in a Chinese prison from 2010-14 he was tortured with an electric baton to his face and spent three years in solitary confinement. Zhisheng is a prominent figure for the civil rights movement in China, advocating constitutional reform and arguing landmark cases to defend property rights and political and religious dissenters. His wife and two children fled [JURIST report]... Full Story››

Federal appeals court orders release of Sudan funds for USS Cole bombing victims

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Wednesday ordered [decision, PDF] the release of Sudanese funds held by New York banks to satisfy a $315 million default judgment in the USS Cole case. The lower court found in 2012 that Sudan had provided "material support" to al Qaeda and ordered compensation for the 17 US Navy sailors killed and 42 injured in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Despite arguments made by Sudan, the court found that the default judgment complied with the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text, PDF] and the Terrorism Risk... Full Story››

Cyprus high court supports impeachment of deputy AG

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Cyprus [official website] unanimously ruled [judgment, DOC, in Greek] Thursday that Deputy Attorney General Rikkos Erotokritou should be impeached for his inappropriate actions when he accused Attorney General Costas Clerides [official website] of bribery during a nationally televised press conference in April. The court concluded that publicly announcing these serious, criminal and unfounded allegations was "false, morally reprehensible, and unacceptable" and amounted to inappropriate behavior. Furthermore, the court wrote that Erotokritou "does not seem to ... underst[and] the nature, size and scope of the slip, thus indicating at least a substantial lack of judgment and... Full Story››

Egypt president pardons jailed Al Jazeera journalists

[JURIST] Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi [BBC profile] pardoned two Al Jazeera journalists Wednesday who had been sentenced [JURIST report] in late August for releasing video footage that allegedly contained false news in support of the Muslim Brotherhood [BBC backgrounder]. Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, along with nearly 100 other prisoners, were freed from jail [Al Jazeera report] following el-Sisi's announcement on his Facebook page [official Facebook, in Arabic] stating he issued a resolution that granted amnesty to 100 young people in custody from cases relating to breach of the law during demonstrations and humanitarian cases. The International Federation of... Full Story››

UN rights experts urge Saudi authorites to block execution of juvenile Arab Spring protester

[JURIST] A group of UN human rights experts on Tuesday urged authorities in Saudi Arabia to block the execution [press release] of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr [IBT backgrounder], who was convicted of involvement in the Arab Spring protests when he was 17. The experts said, "[a]ny judgment imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offence, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia‚Äôs international obligations." Al-Nimr was reportedly tortured and mistreated by the General Investigation Directorate until he was eventually forced into confessing his guilt. The experts also stressed that, "[i]nternational law, accepted as... Full Story››