The Legal Intelligencer

Athletes Use Unique Position to Call for Criminal Justice Reform

June 22, 2018 | Angus Love | The Legal Intelligencer

An ancient Chinese philosopher once opined that he wished to live in interesting times, and we certainly have that opportunity. One would think a mature society would look to elder statesmen and women, the professional class, esteemed academicians and leaders of the business community for guidance and wisdom in serious matters impacting our society. Due to a moral vacuum of our leadership, it has been left to athletes to speak up about social unrest. Unfortunately we seem to be an entertainment-driven culture, with a reality television star with a dubious business background (five bankruptcies and numerous litigation failures) to be our leader.

Our 45th president, Donald J. Trump, has created such a moral vacuum. While he brags about molesting young women, paying off porn stars and Playboy Bunnies, fathers five children with three different wives, and is a compulsive liar; he seems to lack a true moral compass. Despair seems rampant as suicides are up 25 percent in recent years and opioid deaths were up 21 percent last year. Thus it is left to those in the entertainment sector to respond to the vacuum. Oddly enough athletes have stepped up to challenge—especially those concerning the criminal justice system. In the area of criminal justice, Trump’s own problems aside; he urges police to rough up suspects, brands immigrants as criminals as his Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls for a return to the failed drug war, marijuana prohibition and harsher prison sentences. All of these measures fall most heavily on people of color and the poor.

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County's Settlement With Pregnant Inmates Shines Light on Missing Policies

November 16, 2017 | Lizzie McLellan | The Legal Intelligencer

Pennsylvania has received high rankings nationally for its treatment of pregnant inmates, but under a recent settlement, one of its counties will be forced to make changes to its conditions for women who are expecting while in jail.

Allegheny County agreed to a settlement earlier this month in Seitz v. Allegheny County, under which they are changing their policies for housing pregnant inmates. The agreement stems from five inmates’ federal lawsuit against the county over the practice of placing pregnant inmates in solitary confinement at the Allegheny County Jail. Four of the five plaintiffs had spent time in solitary confinement, between six and 22 days, during which time they spent 23 to 24 hours per day in an isolated cell.

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Mandatory Prison Sentences Aren't Necessary in Pa.

April 21, 2017 | Angus Love, Esq. | The Legal Intelligencer

On the evening of Jan. 22, 2012, John Morales tried to sell a bag of weed to Donald Clark in the parking lot of Rutter’s gas station in Waynesboro. Little did John know that Clark was a confidential ­informant working for the local police. Donald insisted that they do the transaction in the parking lot of a local church, claiming he didn’t know where the gas station was. In the church was a nursery. At the subsequent trial after John was busted, the district attorney demanded a mandatory two-year sentence under the Drug Free School Zone Act because of the nursery which triggered the enhancements. This law applies regardless of whether there was any notice that the nursery was considered to be a school and within a school zone, regardless of whether schools were in ­session. The law also includes transactions within 1,000 feet of bus routes regardless of whether the buses are running or if school is in session.

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Time for Pa. to Re-examine Life Without Parole

February 20, 2016 | Angus Love, Esq. | The Legal Intelligencer

The national mood on criminal justice issues has dramatically changed in the past few years. Fear of crime and personal safety are no longer leading political concerns as the economy and terrorism have taken their place. This past July, President Obama became the first U.S. president to visit a federal prison when he went to the El Reno Federal Prison in Oklahoma. In September, Pope Francis visited the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia during his first visit to the United States. He addressed the inmates and staff and called for more empathy and compassion in our sentencing practices. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder instituted several significant reforms at the U.S. Department of Justice aimed increasing police accountability, reducing the harsh consequences of the drug war and minimizing racial disparities in sentencing.

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The Legal's Diverse Attorneys of the Year—2015

June 2, 2015 | The Legal Intelligencer

Earlier this year, The Legal's editorial staff set out to select our latest group of Diverse Attorneys of the Year, our attempt to shine a light on the outstanding work being done by minority attorneys across Pennsylvania, whose work is sometimes overlooked by a profession still catching up when it comes to diversity.


Yeh is the managing attorney of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, an organization dedicated to providing assistance to incarcerated or institutionalized low-income people whose constitutional rights have been violated within the institution. Her work has seen her successfully argue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in recent years. In addition to her legal representations, she is president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania and has long been co-chair of its Marutani Fellowship Selection Committee, which provides stipends to Asian-American law students so they can take summer internship positions with public interest organizations or government agencies. She chairs the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Public Interest Section and serves on its Judicial Retention and Selection Committee, which has been busy this year, with 15 open judicial positions and dozens of candidates in Philadelphia. She also co-chairs the bar’s Civil Rights Committee.

It Is Time to Reform Laws on Marijuana Use

December 22, 2014 | Angus Love | The Legal Intelligencer

In 1934, Harry Anslinger, the nation’s first drug czar, led a campaign to outlaw marijuana. Previously, it had been used for a variety of medicinal purposes and was subject to local ordinances. Anslinger mounted a public relations campaign to achieve his goal of criminalizing the drug. Some suggested the campaign had racial overtones, especially Mexican Americans who were often portrayed as menaces to society when indulging in marijuana. Others suggested the campaign was bankrolled and publicized by William Randolph Hearst to eliminate hemp as an industrial competitor to his considerable timber/paper holdings. The movie “Reefer Madness” symbolized the campaign of fear and distortion.

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'The New Jim Crow' to Be Explored at Annual CLE Day

November 24, 2014 | Su Ming Yeh | The Legal Intelligencer

The Public Interest Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association is set to present its Annual Public Interest Law Day CLE Program on Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, CLE Conference Center, Wanamaker Building, 10th floor, Philadelphia. This CLE program will offer six substantive and two ethics CLE credits and will present a wide array of hot topics in public interest law. It will be followed by the Public Interest Section's Annual Awards Ceremony and Reception at the Marriott at 1201 Market St., Philadelphia, in the Independence Ballroom, where the Hon. Louis H. Pollak Award will be presented to retired Judge Edmund Spaeth. The Andrew Hamilton Award will also be presented.

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The Struggle to Slow Mass Incarceration Movement In PA

September 23, 2013 | Angus Love, Esq. | The Legal Intelligencer

During last year's annual opportunity to pontificate on institutional issues in this respected venue, I mentioned the possibility of groundbreaking legislation in Harrisburg that would address prison overcrowding. The bill, titled SB 100, did pass into law and became Act 122. This year, I will examine the final legislative product and offer my thoughts on its effectiveness and provide context on the struggle to slow the mass incarceration movement in Pennsylvania.

In my capacity as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, I frequently tour our prisons and jails. Recently, I looked out over the recreational yard at the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, Pa., and saw hundreds of predominately young African-American men milling around and participating in several recreational activities. It brought to mind an old joke by Richard Pryor who had gone to a prison and was expecting to see the fruit of our justice system but saw only "just us," meaning a huge number of African-Americans. A similar experience in the Philadelphia Prison System was even more striking as individuals other than African-American were few and far between.

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