Default Judgment Entered Against the City of Harrisburg, et al. in Firearm Preemption Litigation

Today, the Dauphin County Prothonotary entered a default judgment for Plaintiff Howard Bullock against the City of Harrisburg, Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter in the amount of “$21,140 plus such additional sums as may be assessed at trial.”  You can download an entire copy of the Default Judgment here.

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This default judgment stems from a lawsuit filed against the City of Harrisburg, Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter by Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), Kim Stolfer, Joshua First and Howard Bullock, as a result of their illegal firearm ordinances.

On February 13, 2015, the Defendants removed FOAC, Kim Stolfer and Joshua First to the United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania; however, they left Howard Bullock’s claims pending before the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. As the Defendants failed to file a responsive pleading to Plaintiff Bullock’s claims, even after being provided the requisite 10 day notice, the Dauphin County Prothonotary entered a default judgment for Mr. Bullock against the Defendants.

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Personal Injury 101

A Tort, is a where one deviates from the standard of care, from societies norms. It is an action that causes harm to a person or property. It is not a crime. Torts are civil actions. There are numerous Torts.

Personal Injury cases derive from the absence of acting reasonably, a failure of care, resulting in harm to a person and/or property, which is called Negligence. Negligence is a subset of a Tort.

The most common examples of Personal Injury cases are slip-and-falls, and car accidents.

In order to prevail in Personal Injury cases one must prove all the elements of Negligence.

Negligence consists of: (1) a Duty; (2) Breach of Duty; (3) Causation; and (4) Damages.

For example, one is out grocery shopping and slips and falls on a spill in the produce aisle. In order to prevail on a theory of Negligence, one must prove: that the store had a duty to clean up the spill; the store breached their duty by not cleaning up the spill; the injuries sustained were proximately caused from slipping on the spill; and there were damages from the slip-and-fall.

There are numerous areas to go into but this is just a brief overview.

With the example above, besides many other factors, landowners liability and ones who are in control of land, buildings, structures, etc., on the land, is determined by ones status. Whether one is an invitee, licensee, or trespasser, would trigger what duty the landowner and/or those in control of the land owe. Landowners, and those in control of the land, have a reasonable time cure defects on the land. Also, there is no duty to warn of open and obvious dangers.

With auto accidents, it usual depends on what type of insurance one has.

Under a limited tort option one can only receive economic losses, wage losses, medical expenses, and cannot seek recovery for pain and suffering, unless one pierces the limited tort threshold, regardless of who is at fault.

Under the full tort option, one can seek recover for everything included under limited tort, which also includes pain and suffering.

The majority of Personal Injury cases settle.

It is always wise to have an advocate on your side, so feel free to stop by our Pottstown Office in Montgomery County.

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Media Release: Attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin to address Pennsylvania Pipelines

Prince Law Offices, P.C. is proud to announce that its Attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin is presenting on March 7, 2015 at the PA Local Government Training Partnership:  New Tools and Opportunities for Advancing Sound Land Use at Albright College on the panel Pennsylvania Pipelines:  Providing an Ounce of Prevention.

Also participating on the panel are Cheryl Auchenbach, Community Planner III, Berks County Planning Commission, Paul Janssen, Director Center for Excellence in Local Government at Albright College and Treasurer and Secretariat, Berks County Water and Sewer Association, and Shannon Rossman, Executive Director, Berks County Planning Commission.

Additional information and registration information is available from http://www.palocalgovtraining.org and http://www.BerksBar.org.

If you have questions about energy facilities including pipelines, please contact Attorney Franklin at JFranklin@PrinceLaw.com or visit our website at http://www.PrinceLaw.com.

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We Agreed to A Mutual Divorce, But Now My Ex-Spouse Disappeared, What Do I Do?

We both agreed to a Mutual Divorce. Everything was going smoothly, the initial documents were accepted and filed. However, after the 90-day waiting period was up, my soon to be ex-spouse “defendant” disappeared. Defendant no longer will return any divorce documents; my calls; and did not update their address. It has been several months and I would like a divorce, what do I do?

Regarding domestic matters, no matter what one thinks, or is advised by family, friends, or whomever, it is always best to have an advocate on your side.

For starters, all is good, as long as the Divorce Compliant was properly served and documentation of the service was filed with the Court within 30-days. If not, then one may have to jump through some more hoops to get things filed and served.

As with anything regarding Family Law, the best approach is to always be agreeable. The more one fights and disagrees, the more it will cost, even if you are Pro Se.

Having the defendant basically disappear by moving, not updating you, and no longer accepting the divorce documents, nor returning calls is more common than one thinks.   This occurs for many reasons one of which is that the defendant simply does not care anymore, and does not want to be bothered, which is actually good.

As long as both parties lived separate and apart for two (2) years, this could even be while living in the same home, one can still get a no fault divorce, as long as the Divorce Complaint, if it was filed Pro Se includes a count for a Mutual Consent Divorce and Irretrievable breakdown Divorce, if not then one would have amend the complaint and reserve the complaint, which would take further steps to complete service since the defendant is no cooperating anymore and their whereabouts are unknown.

Original service of the Divorce Complaint can be served by: the Sheriff; Process Server; USPS Certified Mail and Regular Mail; or defendant can acceptance service.

Again, as long as both parties have lived separate and apart for two (2) years, one can still get their divorce by filing the necessary documents for an Irretrievable breakdown Divorce.

Once the correct documents are filed and twenty (20) days have gone by with no response from the defendant, by not responding or filing ones claims with the Court they are waiving there rights on those claims, ones divorce should be granted. However, it most be noted, that when the defendant, who is no represented, and does not respond or file anything with the Court, does not object to the divorce, some Judges have been requiring additional steps to grant the divorce.

And those additional steps are usually having the defendant agree to withdraw or stipulate to any, Equitable Distribution issues, or one must file a motion to withdraw any and all additional counts of the Divorce Complaint that do not pertain to the no fault divorce counts for Mutual and Irretrievable breakdown.

After the motion is filed, the defendant would have an additional thirty (30) days to respond. If, the defendant does not respond, then the motion should be granted and the divorce decree issued.

This is just brief blog on some problems with Mutual Divorces.

It is always wise to have an advocate on your side.

Feel free to walk in the Pottstown Office, located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

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Your Papers, Please.

On February 17, 2015 State Representative Cruz introduced draconian legislation that could only be described out of a play book from the Weimar Republic prior to the passage of the Gesetz über Schußwaffen und Munition (Law on Firearms and Ammunition) in 1928 which required citizens to get a license from police to acquire firearms. See Nazi Firearms Laws and the Disarming of the German Jews, Pg. 487-488.

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House Bill 503, the Firearm Registration Act, requires that:

All firearms in this Commonwealth shall be registered in accordance with this section. It shall be the duty of a person owning or possessing any firearm to cause the firearm to be registered. No person within this Commonwealth may possess, harbor, have under the person’s control, transfer, offer for sale, sell, give, deliver or accept any firearm unless the person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for the firearm. No person within this Commonwealth may possess, harbor, have under the person’s control, transfer, offer for sale, sell, deliver or accept any firearm which is unregisterable under this act.

Representative Cruz was kind enough to leave exemptions for firearms owned by federal, state or local governments, duty related firearms to out of state police and corrections officers, firearms owned by manufacturers, transporters or retailers (provided they have the correct licensing), private security personnel (but their employer must own and maintain, as well as register the firearm) and individuals participating in recreational firearm activity in the Commonwealth or passing through provided that the firearm is either broken down or unloaded and cased.

The proposed legislation does not allow for individuals to obtain a registration certificate if they were convicted of a crime of violence, were convicted in the last five years of any violation of law relating to use, possession or sale of narcotics or are otherwise ineligible to possess a firearm under State or Federal law.

What is problematic with this proposed restriction, in addition to it being ill conceived, is that a crime of violence is not defined in this bill OR under 18 PA.C.S. § 6102. Ostensibly, this could mean that a summary conviction for a disorderly conduct involving a kick, punch, or shove could count and bar a person from being able to register their firearm.

disorderly

Simply put, if this bill was to pass and you are a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Representative Cruz would want you to get in line to register them with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). But the bill doesn’t simply require that individuals register their firearms. It asks for a fairly large amount of information, some of which the federal government doesn’t even require when purchasing a gun.

The bill proposes that every person who is required to register under the act submit an application to the (PSP) which would include:

(1) The name, home and business address, telephone number, date of birth and Social Security number of the applicant.

(2) The age, sex and citizenship of the applicant.

(3) The name of the manufacturer, the caliber or gauge, model, type and serial number of each firearm to be registered.

(4) Two photographs taken within 30 days immediately prior to the date of filing the application equivalent to passport size showing the full face, head and shoulders of the applicant in a clear and distinguishing manner.

(5) Additional information as the Pennsylvania State Police may deem necessary to process the application.

But it gets worse. In addition to part 5 being vague, applicants would be required to submit fingerprints as part of the application process and PSP would also conduct a background check at the time of application. Within 30 days PSP would notify an individual if they were approved or denied.

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Connecticut Gun Owners stand in line to register their guns in 2013

If an individual were approved, the PSP would issue a certificate which would contain their name, residence, date of birth, photograph and other information PSP deemed necessary. HB 503 states that the certificate shall be carried with the firearm and shall be exhibited to police upon demand for inspection. The proposed certificates would need to be renewed yearly, at a cost of $10 per application.

If the applicant is denied and exhausts the administrative remedies the Bill directs that the applicant must surrender the firearm for which the application was denied to PSP. And we all know that PSP has never made a mistake as to an individual’s ability to own and possess a firearm. Not to mention, the bill doesn’t allow the individual to transfer their property to another because under §3(a):

No person within this Commonwealth may…transfer, offer for sale, sell, give, deliver…any firearm unless the person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for the firearm.

The Bill also requires that individuals who hold a registration certificate shall within 48 hours: Notify PSP regarding any theft, loss or destruction of the firearm, change of information on the certificate, the sale, transfer or other disposition of the firearm and return the certificate to PSP after a firearm is lost, stolen, destroyed or otherwise disposed of.

Lastly, the Bill requires that a registrant

Keep any firearm in the registrant’s possession unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock, gun safe or similar device unless the firearm is in the registrant’s immediate possession and control while at the registrant’s place of residence or business or while being used for lawful recreational purposes within this Commonwealth.

Disassembled is not defined by this proposed bill or § 6102 either! Are we to understand disassembled as merely field stripped or is it further than that?

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If this bill doesn’t have you concerned, it should. Representative Cruz is proposing that every firearm you possess as an individual be registered with the state. History has shown that firearms registries ultimately lead to bad things. In addition to knowing your firearm collection, the bill would allow the PSP to know WHERE the firearms are kept!

This proposed draconian law would require individuals to prove ownership to the police by having them produce a certificate of registration upon demand! While the likelihood is that this bill will not make it out of committee, it is important to keep an eye on such legislation. Our current governor would be delighted to sign such an oppressing bill. And this isn’t the first time Representative Cruz has introduced this bill!

How can you prevent it from seeing the light of day?

Contact the members on the Judiciary Committee and tell them not to let HB 503 out of committee.

After the initial writing of this blog, it has come to my attention via the American Gun Owners Alliance that the Senate has a similar bill (SB 503) which has been referred to their Judiciary Committee as well.

As always, don’t forget to click the buttons below to like and share this article with your friends and family. You can also like Firearms Industry Consulting Group and Prince Law Offices, P.C. Facebook pages to the right by simply clicking “like”.

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Motion for Stay is DENIED in NRA v. Lancaster

It was reported earlier this week that the City of Lancaster’s request for a Stay, pending the constitutional challenge in Leach v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 585 MD 2014, was denied. However, today an Order was issued dated February 13, 2015, which granted the City’s request for a stay.

At my request, Attorney Adam Kraut of our firm called the Lancaster County Prothonotary to determine whether a second order had been issued, which vacated the the February 13, 2015 Order and denied the stay. Attorney Kraut learned that no such second order had been issued and that the only order was the February 13, 2015 Order. At that point, he reached out to reporter Nephin and Judge’s chambers to determine why it was reported that the Stay was denied, when the Order reflects that it was granted. It was thereafter learned that the Order was granted in error and that the Request for Stay had been denied. Upon learning of the error, Judge Madenspacher immediately issued a new Order, vacating the February 13, 2015 Order and denying the Request for Stay.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Attorney Kraut, the proper order has been issued. Absent his devotion, it is unknown when this issue would have come to light.

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Is the City of Harrisburg Attempting to Solicit People to Conspire to Violate the Law?

Recently, the City of Harrisburg announced that it was accepting donations to support its fight against several lawsuits, including ours, in relation to its illegal and unlawful firearm ordinances. However, it appears that the City’s solicitor didn’t think through this request in relation to Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code.

Let’s start with the underlying statute that prohibits any municipality from regulating firearms and ammunition. 18 Pa.C.S. 6120 provides:

No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

18 Pa.C.S. 6119 then goes on to declare:

Except as otherwise specifically provided, an offense under this subchapter constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Therefore, it is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree for any county, municipality or township to violate Section 6120.

Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code also includes crimes for attempt, solicitation and conspiracy.

Specifically, 18 Pa.C.S. 901 addresses criminal attempt and declares:

A person commits an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, he does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime.

18 Pa.C.S. 902 addresses criminal solicitation:

A person is guilty of solicitation to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he commands, encourages or requests another person to engage in specific conduct which would constitute such crime or an attempt to commit such crime or which would establish his complicity in its commission or attempted commission.

Lastly, 18 Pa.C.S. 903 addresses criminal conspiracy:

A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he:
(1) agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or
(2) agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.

As the City is now soliciting individuals to fund and support its litigation involving its unlawful firearm and ammunition ordinances, so that it can continue to enforce these illegal and unlawful ordinances,  it seems clear that the City and Mayor Papenfuse are involved in attempting to solicit people to conspire to violate Section 6120 and anyone donating in support would likewise be attempting and conspiring to violate Section 6120. As the Commonwealth Court has already ruled in Dillon v. City of Erie that an identical parks ordinance was illegal and in Clarke v. House of Representatives ruled that lost and stolen ordinances are illegal, there can be no dispute that the City of Harrisburg and its elected officials have violated Section 6120.Therefore, we call upon District Attorney Marsico to bring charges against all of those involved, including the City of Harrisburg and its elected officials for violating Section 6120. It is time that our district attorneys hold our publicly elected officials accountable for their criminal acts.

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