Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law

Sometimes, if you fight very, very hard against injustice, you win. That’s what happened in Pennsylvania last week, where a court struck down the state’s voter ID law. As the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia described in its complaint and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania acknowledged in its opinion, the evidence of disenfranchisement is vast and the stories are compelling. The court found that “approximately 430,000 electors remain without compliant ID.”  That’s 4 percent of eligible Pennsylvania voters!  Just …

Activists Who Burgled the FBI Come Forward – 43 Years Later

The holiday season is the time for big-screen blockbusters. So perhaps it’s appropriate that 2014 has ushered in a real-life tale of activists, break-ins, surveillance and the FBI that has all the makings of an action-packed, big-screen thriller. The story starts in 1971, with the Vietnam War still going strong and protests against it at their peak. One night, antiwar activists broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pa., and stole pretty much every document inside. They hit a …

Is ‘Knockout Game’ a Hate Crime?

It’s all the “rage” - or is it?  The “knockout game” – not really a game, but rather a violent form of assault - has made headlines across the nation over the past several months. It involves knocking out an unsuspecting victim with a single punch. Some news organizations have reported that the “game,” in which people of color, often older, are randomly attacked by young “players,” has become an epidemic. Others, while acknowledging that the game exists, brand the so-called trend …

Beware the ‘Befriender’

It’s often true that older people feel lonelier as their children leave the nest, their friends move south and their spouses pass away. That’s one reason they’re particularly vulnerable to new “friends” who in truth are out to exploit them. As Katherine Pearson, a professor at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, explains in the Elder Law Prof Blog, these “befrienders” aim to gain the trust – and eventually access to the assets – of their victims. But if you …

Should Elder Abusers Be Able to Inherit From Their Victims?

Say there’s an older adult - let’s call her Judy - who has difficulty caring for herself. Judy’s son, Charles, is her primary caretaker, but he abuses her, pinching her and refusing to give her dinner if she doesn’t stay quiet during his favorite TV show.  Judy’s doctor notices that she has bruises on her arms and is rapidly losing weight; she reports Charles to family services, and Charles is eventually convicted of felony abuse. After several months, Judy dies of unrelated …

Your Town Tells You to Move. Would You?

Imagine that you’ve lived in the same neighborhood for most of your life. Your friends, your family, your personal history are all rooted there. Sure, the neighborhood isn’t as desirable as it once was. It’s fallen on hard times, and there’s a lot of crime. But it’s home. Then the town decides that your neighborhood is a dump. It wants to make the working-class area more upscale by “revitalizing” it, but that means displacing you and your neighbors, most of …