Welcome Guest | Your Account | Sign In

Berks County Bar Association will open at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, January 27 until further notice.

Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce 10th Annual Gala

Recently, the Berks County Latino Chamber of Commerce recognized the Executive Director of the Berks County Bar Association and the Law Foundation of Berks County, Donald F. Smith, Jr., as its 2014 “Community Partner of the Year” for the Bar Association’s work with the Latino Chamber.  The Award presentation was made at the Chamber’s 10th Annual Gala.

Beginning in 2009,  the Berks County Bar Association began addressing issues involving diversity in our community to further our mission of “providing educational programs for the public, assuring access to justice and protecting the integrity of the legal system in Berks County.” 

Above: BCBA President, Jesse L. Pleet, Esquire and Executive Director, Donald F. Smith, Jr., Esquire

The Association undertook providing funding to  MidPenn Legal Services directed at supporting the placement of a bilingual Latino attorney for its Reading office for the first time in MidPenn’s history.  That was Bernardo Carbajal. Thereafter, the Berks County Bar Association hosted an Immigration Summit, bringing together many agencies and groups for the first time to discuss issues immigrants face.  The Greater Reading Immigration Project is an outgrowth of that effort.

The Summit also led the Community Justice Project, another legal services organization, to place a fulltime bilingual attorney in its Reading office thanks in large part to the funding received from the Berks County Bar Association and its Law Foundation.  That attorney was Abraham Cepeda.  Recognizing that members of the Latino Community have lost rights and suffered as a result of the unauthorized practice of law by some notary publics.  The Bar Association has created a Task Force on Notario Fraud, and the Task Force includes non-lawyer members of the Latino Chamber.  Current efforts are being directed at providing educational programs in the Latino community as to the proper role of Notary Publics.

To assist with its educational efforts, in 2014 the Bar Association hired Rainy Leonor-Lake as Community Outreach Coordinator.  As a bilingual Latino, she assists Spanish-speaking individuals seeking an attorney through the Association’s Lawyer Referral Service.  Having Rainy on staff is a further demonstration of the Bar Association’s commitment to providing access to justice for Latinos.

The Bar Association has also taken the lead in efforts to increase the number of Latino foster parents to lessen the need for placement of Latino children in foster homes outside of their culture and outside of the county.

In 2010, at the urging of the Bar Association, PACE Institute provided an education curriculum to prepare individuals to become certified court interpreters.  While PACE is no longer in operation, the Berks County Bar Association continues to have as a goal increasing the number of certified court interpreters in Berks County.  Not only will it improve access to justice, but having better trained interpreters protects the integrity of the legal system.

Through multiple sponsorships, the Berks County Bar Association is pleased to provide funding to the Latino Chamber, thereby supporting its important mission in the community.

 

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.

provided by the UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH SCHOOL OF LAW

Egypt court convicts doctor of manslaughter in female genital mutilation case

[JURIST] An Egyptian appeals court Monday convicted a doctor of manslaughter in a female genital mutilation (FGM) [WHO backgrounder] that resulted in the death of a 13-year-old girl in 2013. The doctor, Raslan Fadl, who was originally cleared of charges [JURIST report] at the trial level, was fined and sentenced [BBC report] to two years of hard labor for manslaughter with an additional three months added for FGM. The victim, Suhair al-Bataa, was brought to Fadl by her father in order to undergo the illegal procedure. The father of the victim also faced trial Monday and was given a suspended... Full Story››

Federal judge puts Alabama same-sex marriage decision on hold

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Alabama [official website] on Sunday put a two-week hold on a decision overturning Alabama's same-sex marriage ban. Judge Callie VS Granade stated [AP report] that the two-week stay is not intended to become lengthy hold on current same-sex couples' right to marry. Last week Grandade struck down [JURIST report] the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act [text], ruling them unconstitutional. Applying strict scrutiny, Granade found the marriage laws violated the due process and equal protection clauses [Cornell LII backgrounders] of the Fourteenth... Full Story››

Egypt authorities release Mubarak's sons

[JURIST] Egyptian authorities announced Monday that former president Hosni Mubarak's two sons were released from prison. Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were charged with using state funds to renovate family residences and sentenced to four years in prison. While both brothers have been released [AP report], they still face a retrial [JURIST report] on charges of corruption with their father and are also charged in a separate case with insider trading. The release of the two brothers was expected after an Egyptian court ordered [JURIST report] their release on bail last Thursday. The brothers' hearings on current charges are expected to... Full Story››

Cambodian commander admits to using force against opposition

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] on Sunday accused a Cambodia leader of human rights abuse, reporting [press release] that the commander of the nation's gendarmerie [Global Security backgrounder] admitted to using force against opposing individuals such as anti-government demonstrators and protesters. General Sao Sohka, leader of the gendarmerie and part of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) [official website], said that he used such force for political reasons, and admitted to invoking tactics used by Adolf Hitler. During his speech last week, Sao Sokha lauded the work done by his troops when the killed five people publicly protesting... Full Story››

Greeks vote in election that could lead to renegotiation of bailout terms

[JURIST] Greek voters went to the polls on Sunday to vote in an election that could lead to the renegotiation of bailout [BBC backgrounder] terms with international lenders. The leftist party Syriza [official website], which has been leading [Reuters report] in the polls, has promised to reopen negotiations with its lenders, as many Greeks consider the terms of the massive 173 billion euro bailout too harsh. The party plans to have some of the debts written off and to abandon severe budget constraints. The results of the election and the action taken afterwards by the new regime will have significant... Full Story››