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PITTSBURGH — An evidence suppression hearing for Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School founder Nick Trombetta will stretch into November after another day of arguments Monday was more notable for who did not testify than for who did.

Beaver County solicitor Joe Askar, who also represents the Rochester-based National Network of Digital Schools, invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to testify. Askar was subpoenaed by Trombettas defense team in their effort to get recorded conversations with attorneys, including him, tossed out by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

Trombetta — who faces 11 federal charges — is claiming that the FBI violated his attorney-client privilege by recording discussions with Askar, former PA Cyber attorney Timothy Barry, and Ralph Monico and Leo Daly, attorneys who also represented NNDS. A Sept. 30 hearing was continued until Monday.

Mr. Askar has neither committed nor been charged with any crime. Nor will he be. As the U.S. Supreme Court has said, the privilege is available not only to protect the guilty, but also the innocent: We have emphasized that one of the Fifth Amendments basic functions is to protect innocent men, who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances, Bruce Teitelbaum, Askars attorney, said in a statement.

The ambiguities inherent in this complex matter and the possibility of misunderstanding compelled me, out of caution, to advise Mr. Askar to invoke his privilege, Teitelbaum said.

Barry was called to the stand by defense attorney Adam Hoffinger later in the day, but was excused after a lengthy off-the-record sidebar involving his attorney, Trombettas lawyers and prosecutors. Hoffinger said Barry would be recalled when the hearing continues next month.

Trombetta attorney Robert Salerno quizzed FBI agent Samantha Bell, the lead investigator, on synopses of calls monitored by agents, instructions to agents on recording calls and minimization, the FBIs name for when agents stop listening to calls that are irrelevant or might be protected by attorney-client privilege.

After Barry was excused, FBI agent Paul Allen took the stand and was questioned by Hoffinger on a June 2012 synopsis of a recorded call on which he noted that Trombetta would be talking to his attorney.

Hoffinger wondered how agents could know when to stop recording privileged communications if they truly did not know whether Trombetta had a personal attorney. Allen said he did not exactly remember, but testified that he might have simply written the note to be cautious.

Im not sure why I used the personal pronoun his, Allen said. I didnt mean anything by it.

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Agents questioned, Askar takes the Fifth in Trombetta hearing

State legislators are concerned about Second Amendment rights so much so that the Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit local regulation of firearms or ammunition.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway, announced Friday that the senate passed House Bill 80 by a vote of 34 to 14 on Thursday.

State Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, said he supports the bill that would put a stop to local laws or ordinances attempting to regulate firearms or ammunition.

Now the bill is in the hands of the state House of Representatives following Thursdays vote.

I think its very much needed, Causer said, who was a co-sponsor of the original House Bill.

Causer said the measure promotes uniformity in regards to firearms across Pennsylvania. People traveling throughout the state would not have to worry about local gun laws being different.

Scarnati says the legislation would protect Pennsylvanians Second Amendment rights.

This legislation is a commonsense measure to not change, but simply clarify current law, Scarnati said. Senate Bill 80 clarifies existing law to ensure that firearms and ammunition laws are consistent across Pennsylvania.

There has never been such an issue across the region, Causer said, but he sees a problem in southern Pennsylvania, especially Philadelphia.

Causer said the bill would let an individual or organization sue to block or overturn a local ordinance. If successful, the individual would be able to recoup expenses, including attorney fees, costs, and lost income from employment, according to Scarnati.

Go here to see the original:
Senate passes bill prohibiting local firearm regulations

Oct 062014

Kekula saved, from left, her sister, Vivian, 28, her mother, Victoria, 57, and her father, Moses, 52.

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Editor’s note: Danny Cevallos is a CNN legal analyst, criminal defense attorney and partner at Cevallos & Wong, practicing in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Follow him on Twitter: @CevallosLaw. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Brussels were quarantined at New Jersey’s Newark airport and later released this weekend over Ebola fears that turned out to be unwarranted. In this case and that of the Ebola patient in Dallas, government and our citizens struggle to define the parameters of the sanctioned suppression of individual liberty that is the quarantine.

In the modern United States, the people boast unparalleled personal freedoms. Whether enumerated in the Constitution or “penumbral,” the inalienable liberties of the individual are designed to never be overridden by the interests of the majority.

Read the rest here:
Ebola at war with your liberty

Kekula saved, from left, her sister, Vivian, 28, her mother, Victoria, 57, and her father, Moses, 52.

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Editor’s note: Danny Cevallos is a CNN legal analyst, criminal defense attorney and partner at Cevallos & Wong, practicing in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Follow him on Twitter: @CevallosLaw. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Brussels were quarantined at New Jersey’s Newark airport and later released this weekend over Ebola fears that turned out to be unwarranted. In this case and that of the Ebola patient in Dallas, government and our citizens struggle to define the parameters of the sanctioned suppression of individual liberty that is the quarantine.

In the modern United States, the people boast unparalleled personal freedoms. Whether enumerated in the Constitution or “penumbral,” the inalienable liberties of the individual are designed to never be overridden by the interests of the majority.

Read this article:
Ebola fight trumps personal liberty

Kekula saved, from left, her sister, Vivian, 28, her mother, Victoria, 57, and her father, Moses, 52.

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

A one-woman hospital

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Editor’s note: Danny Cevallos is a CNN legal analyst, criminal defense attorney and partner at Cevallos & Wong, practicing in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Follow him on Twitter: @CevallosLaw. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Brussels were quarantined at New Jersey’s Newark airport and later released this weekend over Ebola fears that turned out to be unwarranted. In this case and that of the Ebola patient in Dallas, government and our citizens struggle to define the parameters of the sanctioned suppression of individual liberty that is the quarantine.

In the modern United States, the people boast unparalleled personal freedoms. Whether enumerated in the Constitution or “penumbral,” the inalienable liberties of the individual are designed to never be overridden by the interests of the majority.

See the original post here:
Beating Ebola vs. personal liberty

For two decades Ive told people my job is to fight for their rights and never was this truer than on Saturday. I had come from Chicago to defend free speech and oppose an archaic, unconstitutional blasphemy law that was being enforced by a rogue District Attorney in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

The DA, Bill Higgins, was viciously targeting a 14-year-old teenager after he posted an obscene photo on Facebook in which he was simulating oral sex with a ceramic Jesus yard gnome. Of course, this prank was offensive or what some might call being a teenager. However, the self-righteous Higgins took it upon himself to be the great defender of Christendom and threw the book(s) the Bible and the Law at this young man.

This religiously motivated action was quite odd coming from Higgins, who hasnt exactly been a pillar of morality. For example, six years ago the renegade District Attorney admitted to having sex in his courthouse office with a woman following a meeting of the Bedford County Republicans, in which he then served as vice-chair. His sexual liaison accused him of sexual assault and sued him, but the charges were eventually dropped.

Higgins decided to prosecute the child under an obscure Pennsylvania law which states that desecration includes physically mistreating [objects] in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action.

While Higgins maintains that he is simply an upstanding district attorney who wishes to uphold a Pennsylvania blasphemy law, his own statements on this case betray that claim. In an interview with local media, Higgins stated:

This troubled young man offended the sensibilities and morals of our community. His actions constitute a violation of the law, and he will be prosecuted accordingly. If that tends to upset the anti-Christian, ban-school-prayer, war-on-Christmas, oppose-display-of-Ten-Commandments crowd, I make no apologies.

I guess if anyone should know about desecrating Christianity it is Higgins, who seems to be a troubled man who is desperately battling his private demons on the public stage at the expense of a teenage boy. By making this incendiary statement, it is clear that Higgins is more of a frustrated right-wing ideologue than a responsible district attorney. Instead of fighting real crime, Higgins is fighting a culture war.

Which brings us back to Saturday. Three organizations, American Atheists, Pennsylvania Non-Believers, and Truth Wins Out, which I am the Executive Director, held a successful protest, where several dozen people rallied in favor of free speech.

Unfortunately, it was marred when a belligerent group of counter protesters, including two from what appeared to be a motorcycle gang, crashed the protest and threatened those in attendance, including me and the 14-year old boy arrested for suggestively posing with the Jesus statue.

Read more here:
Protecting Free Speech is Worth Fighting For

In D.C. v. Heller, the Supreme Court stated that (emphasis added, citations omitted, as usual),

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

[Footnote: We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.]

The question, then, is whether this presumpti[on] of validity can ever be rebutted for instance, if a persons felony conviction is many decades in the past, is for a not very serious felony, or both. Some federal courts have stated that the answer would be yes under the right circumstances. United States v. Moore, 666 F.3d 313, 320 (4th Cir. 2012); United States v. Barton, 633 F.3d 168, 174 (3d Cir. 2011); United States v. Williams, 616 F.3d 685, 693 (7th Cir. 2010); United States v. Duckett, 406 Fed. Appx. 185, 187 (9th Cir. 2010) (Ikuta, J., concurring); United States v. McCane, 573 F.3d 1037, 1049-50 (10th Cir. 2009) (Tymkovich, J., concurring). Some North Carolina state court decisions have actually set aside particular claimants state-law gun disabilities, under the North Carolina Constitutions right to bear arms provision. Britt v. State, 681 S.E.2d 320 (N.C. 2009) (holding that a nonviolent felon whose crime was long in the past regained his state constitutional right to keep and bear arms); Baysden v. State, 718 S.E.2d 699 (N.C. Ct. App. 2011) (same). But Thursdays Binderup v. Holder (E.D. Pa. Sept. 25, 2014) is, to my knowledge, the first federal court decision to actually set aside such a gun disability on Second Amendment grounds.

The court began by deciding whether Daniel Binderups conviction counts as a felony for federal felon-in-possession law, and concludes that it does. Federal felon-in-possession law actually bars gun possession by people who have state or federal convictions for any crime punishable by a year or more in prison or, if its labeled a misdemeanor by state law, by two years or more in prison. The focus isnt (solely) on the formal felony-vs.-misdemeanor label attached to a crime by state or federal law, nor on the actual sentence for the crime, but on the maximum sentence authorized for the crime (or so the Binderup court held, consistently with other cases). The crime in this case corruption of minors is labeled by Pennsylvania as a first-degree misdemeanor, which means it carries a maximum sentence of five years. It must therefore be treated, the court held, as a felony for purposes of the federal felon-in-possession statute.

But then, the court asked whether the Second Amendment nonetheless preempts federal felon-in-possession law in this particular case. In Barton, one of the cases cited above, the Third Circuit the federal appellate court that sets binding federal precedent for Pennsylvania and some other jurisdictions wrote:

To raise a successful as-applied challenge, [a defendant] must present facts about himself and his background that distinguish his circumstances from those of persons historically barred from Second Amendment protections. For instance, a felon convicted of a minor, non-violent crime might show that he is no more dangerous than a typical law-abiding citizen. Similarly, a court might find that a felon whose crime of conviction is decades-old poses no continuing threat to society. The North Carolina Supreme Court did just that in Britt v. State, 363 N.C. 546 (2009), finding that a felon convicted in 1979 of one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute had a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, at least as that right is understood under the North Carolina Constitution.

And Binderup, the court held, did present such facts about himself and his background. His only conviction was nearly 17 years before. It stemmed from a nonviolent incident a consensual sexual relationship Binderup had with a 17-year-old employee. Pennsylvania law does not even treat the offense as a statutory rape; the formal age of consent in Pennsylvania (as in most other states) is 16, and sexual conduct by an adult with a 16- or 17-year-old is treated as consensual, though bad for a the minor and therefore the crime of corruption of minors. The statistics presented by the government, showing that people with criminal convictions even nonviolent ones are likely to commit other crimes arent probative given the nature of the crime, how long ago the crime was, and Binderups current age (59). For these reasons, the court held,

[P]laintiff has demonstrated that, if allowed to keep and bear arms in his home for purposes of self-defense, he would present no more threat to the community that the average law-abiding citizen.

And because of this, the presumption that theres no Second Amendment problem with barring felons from possessing guns, the court held, has been rebutted.

Go here to see the original:
Volokh Conspiracy: A rare Second Amendment exemption from federal ban on felons possessing guns

OXFORD, Miss. (PRWEB) September 26, 2014

Charles Overby, a champion of the First Amendment and the free press, has been selected to receive the 2015 Legacy Award from the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.

The Legacy Award, presented by C Spire, recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions as philanthropists, leaders and mentors and brought about definitive, positive changes in the University of Mississippi, state and nation. A ceremony to present the award will be April 18, 2015 at Carrier House, Chancellor Dan and Lydia Jones’ home on the UM campus, where Overby was educated as a journalist.

“Charles Overby has traveled the globe in efforts to promote First Amendment freedoms and to discuss media relations,” said Karen Moore of Nashville, OMWC chair. “In Washington, D.C., Mr. Overby led the development of the Newseum, a major specialty museum that explores how news surrounding historic moments affects our experiences.

“At Ole Miss, he continues to have a significant impact on both students and the general public through the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. The Overby Center gives individuals an opportunity to come together and discuss major issues of our region, nation and world, while creating a better understanding of media, politics and the First Amendment. The Women’s Council believes that discussing issues helps solve them.”

Overby is the former chairman of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute. For 22 years, he was chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation that educates people about the press and the First Amendment. His service as CEO of the Newseum spanned 1997 to 2011, during which time he supervised the building of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. This interactive museum has been called the “best experience Washington has to offer.” He also was CEO of the Diversity Institute, a school created in 2001 to teach journalists and aspiring journalists while increasing diversity in newsrooms.

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics was established at Ole Miss with a $5.4 million gift from the Freedom Forum to honor Overby’s extensive professional contributions. He continues his involvement with Ole Miss students by helping them identify beneficial opportunities and internships.

Before joining the Freedom Forum, Overby was an effective public watchdog a newspaper reporter and editor for 17 years with a goal of protecting citizens by keeping them well informed. He covered Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the White House and presidential campaigns for Gannett Co., the nation’s largest newspaper company. He also served as the top editor at Florida Today in Melbourne, Fla., and the executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News in Jackson. Overby supervised the news and editorial coverage that led to The Clarion-Ledger winning the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1983 for coverage of the need for education reform in Mississippi.

His exemplary career which began as an 11-year-old delivering newspapers at 5 a.m. for The Clarion-Ledger also includes serving as vice president of news and communications for Gannett and as a member of the management committees of Gannett and USA Today. He experienced two stints in government, as press assistant to U.S. Sen. John Stennis, a Democrat from Mississippi; and special assistant for administration to Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, a Republican.

When asked about his successful career, Overby credited his mother, his wife and longtime colleague, the late Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, the Freedom Forum and the Newseum, for mentoring and supporting him throughout his extensive career.

Read the original:
Overby to Receive Coveted Legacy Award

RICK STEELHAMMER | Gazette

Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge biologist Patty Morrison introduces a youthful Life Under the Waves participant to a stinkpot turtle.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Visiting the lesser-known half of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge requires dressing in appropriate attire for the occasion: scuba gear.

The refuge consists of 22 islands and four mainland tracts scattered along 362 miles of river, most of it in West Virginia, said refuge biologist Patty Morrison. Altogether, we have about 3,300 acres — half of it underwater.

To acquaint the public with the wide array of wildlife that lives beneath the surface of the Ohio, the refuge has hosted several Under the Waves programs at its visitor center near Williamstown. On Tuesday, a group of about 35 attended the most recent session, sponsored by the Friends of the Ohio River Islands Wildlife Refuge.

In addition to providing habitat for 105 species of fish ranging from tiny channel darters to 100-pound, plankton-eating paddlefish,the refuge is home to 45 species of freshwater mussels, including seven on the federal endangered species list, Morrison said. By the time the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge was formed in 1990, seven Ohio River mussel species had disappeared from the refuges section of the river but could be found elsewhere in the U.S. Four other former resident species had gone extinct globally.

Formation of the wildlife refuge saved the islands from sand and gravel dredging, a prime killer of mussels and their habitat, but failed to shield them from human-caused challenges. A 1999 chemical spill from a Marietta, Ohio, chemical plant killed an estimated 1 million mussels on a 13-mile section of the Ohio, and a 2005 barge accident at Belleville Locks jammed floodgates and caused a section of the river to go dry. We lost the pool and millions of mussels froze to death, Morrison said.

While Ohio River mussels appear to be on the road to recovery in the wake of the chemical spill and the barge mishap, they remain vulnerable to similar accidents in the future. Currently, 76 of the nearly 300 species of mussels known to exist in the U.S. are on the endangered species list.

In 2010, in an effort to boost the populations of mussels by establishing and connecting new colonies of them in their former range, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and West Virginia DNR began bringing the bivalves back to sites where they once flourished. Mussels were collected from under a bridge over the Allegheny River near East Brady, PA, that was scheduled for demolition, held in a quarantine facility, and transplanted in West Virginia waters at several locations along the Ohio, as well as sites on the Elk, Little Kanawha, Kanawha River at Kanawha Falls, and Middle Island and Dunkard creeks.

More recently, the focus has been on re-establishing rarer species, made possible by another Pennsylvania bridge over the Allegheny — this one at East Brady — being scheduled for in-stream demolition. The two most common species at the Hunter Station Bridge are federally endangered, which has spurred the work on conducting restoration with them. If we can get viable populations established, thats the first step in being able to get them off the endangered species list.

Read the rest here:
Mussel-building a goal of wildlife refuge



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By: TourFactory Pennsylvania

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17082 Keeney Mill Road, New Freedom, PA 17349 – Video

press release from the NRA:

On behalf of our five million members across the country, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is proud to endorse Tom Corbett for Governor in Pennsylvania.

Based on his support of and commitment to the Second Amendment, Corbett has earned an A rating from the NRA-PVF in the 2014 general election. An A rating is reserved for a solidly pro-gun candidate who has supported the NRAs position on issues of importance to gun owners and sportsmen.

Tom Corbett has stood up to the gun control crowd and protected our Second Amendment freedoms in Pennsylvania, said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA-PVF. As Governor, he signed into law Castle Doctrine legislation expanding protection to law-abiding citizens for self-defense. Prior to that, when he served as Attorney General, Tom tripled the number of right-to-carry reciprocity agreements with other states allowing Pennsylvanians to better protect themselves and their families while traveling outside the Keystone state.

Gov. Corbett has a proven record supporting our fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He believes hunting is a valuable tool for wildlife management, a positive use of natural resources, and an American tradition that teaches young people responsibility and respect for the outdoors. In addition, Corbett signed pro-gun friend of the court briefs in the landmark Heller and McDonald cases asserting that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual right for all law-abiding Americans.

We can continue to count on Tom Corbett to stand up for our constitutional freedoms in Pennsylvania, added Cox. On behalf of the NRAs five million members, I want to thank Tom for his steadfast support of the Second Amendment and urge all NRA members, gun owners and sportsmen in Pennsylvania to vote Tom Corbett for Governor on November 4.

See the rest here:
NRA Endorses Tom Corbett for Governor in Pennsylvania

BANGOR, Pa. –

The Bangor teachers union says no to random drug testing.

A year ago the school board passed the ground breaking measure, but it can’t be implemented without union approval.

The Bangor Area School District would have been the first in the state with a random drug testing policy for teachers and staff, but union officials say the policy would violate their Fourth Amendment rights.

The school board passed a random drug testing policy for teachers and staff back in 2013, but the measure still needed approval from the union before being implemented.

Last night the union voted no.

I wasnt totally surprised,” said Bangor school board president, Pamela Colton. “I understand the trepidation trying to implement something like this. It would be groundbreaking. No other school district in Pennsylvania randomly drug tests their staff.

The board passed the measure at the urging of the community.

In 2009 Bangor High School teacher Gina Riso died from an overdose at the apartment of Brad Washburn, a former Bangor wrestling coach.

In a statement, union officials say drug testing is not wrong as a pre-employment requirement.

See more here:

Bangor Area School District teachers vote no to random drug

Kits with lifesaving aids such as ring buoys and youth life jackets will appear at 10 public beaches along Lake Michigan in an effort to prevent drowning due to dangerous currents, officials announced Monday.

Michigan Sea Grant said the kits will be installed this summer. Additional support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to put similar equipment on beaches in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania during the next two years.

A database assembled by Michigan Sea Grant and the National Weather Service shows 138 swimmers drowned in the Great Lakes in the past 12 years including 69 in Michigan in incidents blamed at least in part on rip currents.

Michigans Great Lakes coasts, and the shore of Lake Michigan in particular, have become the epicenter of drowning-related deaths in the Great Lakes region, said Elizabeth LaPorte, Michigan Sea Grants communications and education services director.

Dangerous currents occur throughout the Great Lakes and are common along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Rip currents are strong, narrow currents that move away from the shore. Trying to swim against a rip current can quickly lead to exhaustion.

Many Great Lakes beaches dont have trained lifeguards on duty. Each of the beach safety kits will contain a ring buoy, a throw bag and U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets for youths. Cards encouraging people to closely watch children at the beach also will be distributed.

We want people to enjoy the Great Lakes and to be safe at the beach, and this outreach effort will help raise awareness, said Michigan Sea Grant Director Jim Diana, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.

See original here:
Beaches along Great Lakes to get lifesaving aids



Pennsylvania Middle School Students visit NASA to celebrate the Hubble Telescope Research
Students and teachers from Pennsylvania's Mapletown Jr/Sr High School and Margaret Bell Middle School were joined by their partner organization “Beating the Odds Quarterbacks of Life…

By: Space Sciences

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Pennsylvania Middle School Students visit NASA to celebrate the Hubble Telescope Research – Video

Pennsylvania drivers once had a choice when faced with a police request to search their cars: Consent or make officers get a warrant.

But the state Supreme Court has ruled police in Pennsylvania no longer need warrants to search private vehicles if they suspect evidence of a crime inside.

The decision broadens the power of police to search cars without a judge first deciding whether they have a valid reason to do so. The practice was previously allowed only when officers could show the evidence might be destroyed or moved if they waited.

It also brings Pennsylvania into line with a majority of states that have adopted a federal exception to the Fourth Amendment’s protection against warrantless searches when it comes to vehicles a legal doctrine that grew out of the Prohibition-era war on bootleggers.

Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, who wrote Tuesday’s 4-2 majority opinion, said the change is needed to remedy decades of “fractured jurisprudence” that have left police and prosecutors with little guidance.

Pennsylvania courts had largely followed federal courts, allowing warrantless vehicle searches until 1995. That year the state Supreme Court reversed itself in a series of decisions that warrantless searches of cars were illegal if the officers had time to get a judge’s approval.

“Accordingly, it remains difficult, if not impossible, for police officers in the field to determine how [the state Supreme Court] would rule in motor vehicle search-and-seizure cases, the circumstances of which are almost endlessly variable,” wrote McCaffery, a former Philadelphia police officer.

Chief Justice Ronald D. Castile and Justice J. Michael Eakin joined McCaffery’s opinion. Justice Thomas G. Saylor filed his own opinion, saying that although he had reservations, he joined McCaffery “for the sake of certainty and consistency.”

In a strongly worded dissent joined by Justice Max Baer, Justice Debra McCloskey Todd said the majority “eviscerated the strong privacy protections” the state Constitution provides motorists and “heedlessly contravenes over 225 years of unyielding protection against unreasonable search and seizure which our people have enjoyed as their birthright.”

The decision stems from a Philadelphia drug case in which Sheim Gary was stopped Jan. 15, 2010, by police who believed the tint of his sport utility vehicle’s windows was too dark. The officers smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and when the police asked, Gary admitted he had some weed.

Read the original post:

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules police don't need warrants to search cars

By Brandon Stoneburg

bstoneburg@eveningsun.com

@b_stoneburg on Twitter

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently gave its opinion on the fourth amendment as it pertains to drivers in the Keystone State. Police will no longer need a warrant to search a vehicle; it can be done based solely on probable cause.

Local police chiefs said while the policy is new, not much will change in how officers handle traffic stops and searches.

“There are no grave changes here because you still need probable cause, which is key,” Penn Township Police Chief Jim Laughlin said. “Nobody is going to arbitrarily pull a vehicle over and search it.”

There were already exceptions to warrant laws, Southwestern Regional Police Chief Gregory Bean said. For example, an officer didn’t need a warrant to search a vehicle if illegal items were visible and there was probable cause, which Laughlin described as an officer using his senses to see or smell contraband, drugs or weapons.

A search could also be performed if the driver admits to being in possession of something illegal.

“If you have probable cause and articulate it, you can do an immediate search instead of holding the car and waiting for a warrant,” Laughlin said. “Before, if you thought there was probable cause, but were denied access by the car operator, you would’ve had to wait.”

A safeguard is still in place against any potential illegal searches. If the police officer fails to show or explain probable cause, the defendant could challenge it and the evidence could be thrown out, York County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said.

See the rest here:

Local police: Updated vehicle-search law still requires probable cause



Second Amendment Action Day Rally
The 9th annual 2nd Amendment Action Day rally was held outside the Pennsylvania Capitol.

By: RepMetcalfe

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Second Amendment Action Day Rally – Video



Second Amendment Action Day 2014 at the Pennsylvania Capitol
PA State Rep. Tim Krieger speaks during the 2014 Second Amendment Action Day at the Pennsylvania Capitol.

By: RepKrieger

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Second Amendment Action Day 2014 at the Pennsylvania Capitol – Video



Second Amendment Action Day
Several lawmakers and speakers take part in the 9th annual 2nd Amendment Action Day at the Pennsylvania Capitol.

By: PAHouseGOP Digital Media

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Second Amendment Action Day – Video



Second Amendment Rally
Second Amendment rally in Pennsylvania… we must defend our Constitutional rights! And be sure to catch my latest podcast: http://the405media.com/2014/04/28…

By: FriddleThe

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Second Amendment Rally – Video



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