Gov. Wolf signs order banning new gas drilling leases on Pennsylvania public lands

Gov. Tom Wolf to reinstate moratorium on drilling in parks, forests. Banning Drilling


HARRISBURG (AP) — Fulfilling a campaign pledge, Gov. Tom Wolf today signed an order Thursday banning new drilling leases on public land, ending a short-lived effort by his Republican predecessor to expand the extraction of natural gas from rock buried deep beneath state parks and forests.


The new Democratic governor signed the executive order before a small group of people who braved frigid temperatures to witness the event at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Rush State Park. He said the moratorium was rooted in a “deep-seated and profound respect” for state parks.


“This is a beautiful state and this is one way we can promote that and protect it,” he said.


Wolf, who also campaigned on a pledge to impose a 5 percent extraction tax on natural gas drilling to raise money for public schools and other programs, reiterated that he wants the gas industry to thrive in the state but with appropriate environmental safeguards.


“I absolutely want to do natural gas,” he said. “If we do it right, we can create really good jobs and a great industry 


Wolf’s order supersedes an order that GOP Gov. Tom Corbett signed in May and reinstated the ban that Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell instituted in 2010.


Environmentalists praised the action, saying it reflects Wolf’s support for strong environmental regulation.


“The governor has wisely chosen to protect the people of Pennsylvania over the profits of drillers,” said John Norbeck, CEO of Harrisburg-based PennFuture.


The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group, sharply criticized the move.


“This deeply misguided and purely political action to unnecessarily ban the safe and tightly-regulated development of natural gas from beneath taxpayer-owned lands flies in the face of common sense,” said the coalition’s president, Dave Spigelmyer.


Corbett’s order authorized state officials to negotiate new leases for gas extraction through horizontal wells drilled from adjacent, privately owned land or areas previously leased for drilling in state forests.


It also barred drilling-related construction that disturbs the surface of public lands, but that didn’t quell criticism from groups concerned about the impact.


The new leases, which Corbett hoped would generate tens of millions of dollars to help balance the state budget, were ultimately put on hold in a deal with the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation pending the resolution of the foundation’s 2012 lawsuit seeking to block them.


The state Commonwealth Court sided with the Corbett administration in a decision this month. It upheld the government’s right to lease more public lands for natural gas and oil drilling, and the diversion of rent and royalty payments from a land conservation fund to other programs.


Since the first leases for drilling on the Marcellus Shale formation were sold in 2008, hundreds of millions of dollars of that revenue has been tapped to shore up the state’s operating budgets under Corbett and Rendell.


John Childe Jr., the foundation’s lawyer, said the group is “very grateful” for Wolf’s expected action.


The foundation will continue to press an appeal on its argument that the leasing violates a state constitutional provision that says public natural resources are “the common property of all the people including generations yet to come” and that the state’s role is to conserve and maintain them, Childe said.


“We need to get some clarity on the meaning of the public trust,” he said.


Associated Press writer Sean Carlin in Philadelphia contributed to this story.

Charges Withdrawn – Transfer of a Firearm

 Transfer of a FirearmTransfer Firearm

My client was charged with a felon and a misdemeanor after he “legally” attempted to transfer and purchase a firearm. Charges Withdrawn.

The case began in September of 2014 and finally came to an end in January 2015. After 4 appearances before the Magisterial District Judge, the District Attorney’s Office agreed that the case should be withdrawn.

The client had a Misdemeanor 1 conviction for a DUI back in 2006, which carries a possible penalty of more than one year of incarceration.  However, we were able to successfully resolve this case with a complete withdrawal of the charges.

Although the case took several months and court appearances, it demonstrates that you should rarely waive your right to a Preliminary Hearing.  The District Attorney kept advising the client and me that the best thing for him to do would be to waive his right to the hearing and they would allow him to plead guilty to the misdemeanor for probation.

This is a perfect example why I don’t waive Preliminary Hearings.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopts stricter standards for lawyers investing money for clients

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Lawyers who invest money for clients soon will be under tighter scrutiny and held to stricter standards through rules the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted Tuesday.


“The integrity of our legal system depends a great deal on the professionalism and accountability of attorneys,” Chief Justice Ronald Castille said in a statement the court released.


Castille said the rules “serve as a reminder that attorneys are obligated to live up to the trust people put in them by working diligently and honestly, or face serious consequences.”


The rules, which take effect in 60 days, raise the level of responsibility when attorneys invest client funds. According to the court, the changes were prompted by high-profile incidents across the state, including cases in which clients lost millions of dollars invested by their attorneys. The court did not provide examples.


The rule changes include a Rule of Professional Conduct addition that requires lawyers to be licensed before brokering, selling or offering to place an investment for a client. Such transactions are prohibited if an attorney has any disqualifying financial interests.


Financial records will be more accessible to attorney disciplinary bodies that examine alleged misappropriation of trust accounts, and investigative procedures will be streamlined.


The amended rules are intended to lead to prompt disengagement from legal practice by lawyers who are suspended or disbarred for stealing or mishandling money.


A working group of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court helped create the rules, the court said.


Rules exist for the suspension or disbarment of attorneys who misappropriate client funds. But many clients do not fully recover their losses, the court noted. Victims can file claims through the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security for reimbursable losses from dishonest attorneys. Payouts are capped at $100,000.


Pennsylvania has more than 65,000 licensed attorneys. Fewer than 1 percent are involved in misconduct investment claims, the court said.


Jason Cato is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7936 or


Read more:

Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Firearm Reciprocity


Do you know where you have firearm reciprocity?

Are there exceptions to carrying a firearm without a Pennsylvania License to Carry?
A:       License to Carry Firearms is issued to carry a firearm concealed on one’s person or in a vehicle within this Commonwealth. Any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person except in his place of abode or fixed place of business without a valid and lawfully issued license commits a felony of the third degree. A person who is otherwise eligible to possess a valid license under this chapter but carries a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license and has not committed any other criminal violation commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Click Here to see more.

18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6106 Firearms not to be Carried Without a License
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), any person who carries a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license under this chapter commits a felony of the third degree.
(2) A person who is otherwise eligible to possess a valid license under this chapter but carries a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person, except in his place of 6
abode or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license and has not committed any other criminal violation commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(b) Exceptions.–The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to:
(11) Any person while carrying a firearm in any vehicle, which person possesses a valid and lawfully issued license for that firearm which has been issued under the laws of the United States or any other state.
(15) Any person who possesses a valid and lawfully issued license or permit to carry a firearm which has been issued under the laws of another state, regardless of whether a reciprocity agreement exists between the Commonwealth and the state under section 6109(k), provided:
(i) The state provides a reciprocal privilege for individuals licensed to carry firearms under section 6109.
(ii) The Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of this Commonwealth.
Note: There is debate about having to unload when you exit the vehicle to go into a motel room or other place you have rented or a family member or friend’s personal property to spend the night.

DUI and Firearms. You better not try and buy a firearm after a DUI.

Have a DUI and try to buy a gun in PA? You might get in even more trouble

2nd Amendment


You cannot legally purchase a firearm in Pennsylvania if…

  • You have been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
  • You are under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
  • You are a fugitive
  • You are an “unlawful user of” or addicted to controlled substance
  • You have been found mentally defective or committed to a mental institution
  • You are an illegal alien or admitted to the U.S. under a non-immigrant status
  • You have been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • You have renounced your U.S. citizenship
  • You have a court order that restrained you from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner
  • You have been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence

Release of Lease – Are you entitlted to a release?

Obtaining a Release of Lease from the oil and gas industry has been a very tedious process.

Surrender of Lease

If you need advice, please give us a call to discuss your particular circumstances.


What happens if you believe that your lease is either expired or terminated.  Whether you believe that no production has occurred, haven’t been paid your upfront bonus or delay rentals, or any number of other reasons you can now force the oil and gas company to take action.  The Governor is expected to sign legislation that will assist landowners

in obtaining a Release of Lease if the landowner initiates the process.

House Bill No. 401 was introduced in January 2013 and has had may opportunities to become law.  The last revisions were made on June 27, 2014 and has been passed by both the House and Senate.  The Bill is in on the Governor’s desk for signature.  We will keep you advised on the status of the proposed legislation, but for now click here for the




Section 3. Lessee duty to provide surrender document.
(a) General rule.–Not more than 30 days after the
termination, EXPIRATION or cancellation of an oil or natural gas
lease, the lessee shall deliver to the lessor, without cost to
the lessor, a surrender document in recordable form.


(d) Effect of no challenge.–A lessor who has served a
notice under subsection (a) and fails to receive a timely
challenge from the lessee under subsection (c) may record an
affidavit of termination, EXPIRATION or cancellation of an oil
or natural gas lease in the office of the recorder of deeds for
the county in which the land is situated.


Ineffective Assistance Waivers- No More

New DOJ policy bans waiver of potential ineffective-assistance claims against defense counsel – No More Ineffective Assistance Waivers.

Eric Holder

In a new policy announced Tuesday that is effective immediately, the U.S. Department of Justice says an individual who takes a plea cannot waive a potential ineffective assistance claim against his or her legal counsel by doing so.

That means federal prosecutors can no longer include such waiver language in plea bargain documents and that waivers in earlier documents that have already been signed should not be enforced, the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports. Before this week, 35 of the Justice Department’s 94 U.S. attorney’s offices still used the waiver, the Post reported.

“Everyone in this country who faces criminal legal action deserves the opportunity to make decisions with the assistance of effective legal counsel,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in a DOJ press release. “Under this policy, no defendant will have to forgo their right to able representation in the course of pleading guilty to a crime.”

The American Bar Association urged Holder to do away with the policy last year and commended the DOJ’s decision. “Respect for the integrity of the criminal justice system requires a fair process, conflict-free defense counsel and the proper administration of justice,” ABA President William C. Hubbard said in a statement. “With a high percentage of criminal cases decided by guilty pleas, the routine use of waivers of ineffective assistance of counsel can create a conflict of interest and insulate attorney conduct from judicial review.”

Underage Drinking

How an Underage Drinking charge can affect your record?

In Pennsylvania, a charge of Underage Drinking can be located on a public government database.  When a student is charged with Underage Drinking, the citation and hearing is filed and heard before a Magisterial District Court in Pittsburgh.  Unable to connect to Nvidia The particular docket sheet of the case can be found on the database

Many of the background search companies upload the database and either provide the information for free on their site or sell it to subscribers.   Now, many of the Internet background search companies upload the entire database from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), so the company has the records of all persons charged in Pennsylvania before a specific request is made.

Underage Drinking

The minimum penalties for underage drinking are as follows:

• A fine of up to $500 plus court costs.

• A 90-day suspension for the first offense.

• A one (1) year suspension for the second offense.

• A two (2) year suspension for the third and subsequent offenses.

City Charter High School Takes 2nd Place in International Competition – Moscow

City Charter High School

As Solicitor for City Charter High School – Pittsburgh,  I’m proud to attach an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding the schools “SAGE” team, which finished 2nd in international competition held in Moscow.

The administration and staff at City Charter High School have created an environment and culture that allows the students to fulfill their potential at all levels.

City Charter High School

Adviser Maureen Anderson checks Bryce Johnson’s tie as the City Charter High School’s SEED (Students Encouraging Environmentalism Downtown) team prepares to rehearse its winning presentation for its appearance at the Pittsburgh School Board. The group won second place in the Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship’s (SAGE) worldwide competition in Moscow last summer.


By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As a high school student, Bryce Johnson of Brighton Heights didn’t always see himself as able to help change the world.

But as part of a City Charter High School team that won international recognition, he knows he has.

“We’re making a pretty large impact, and I love it,” Bryce said.

The team, which started an environmental business, came in second among contestants representing 14 countries at the SAGE World Cup competition in Moscow last month, when six members presented. SAGE stands for Students for Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship.

Last week, wearing blue-and-green coordinated competition attire, the team shared its carefully timed 12-minute presentation with the board of the Downtown high school.

The team, which is part of an after-school activity, earned the right to compete by winning the national championship in the social enterprise business category, one of two in the competition.

The students’ business is called SEED — Students Encouraging Environmentalism Downtown. The organization contracts with City High to collect materials for recycling, including old newspapers, other paper, plastic salad containers and various materials at the school.

The students collect from the five floors of the school on Stanwix Street and see that items are in the loading dock area for pickup. The students figure they collect five tons of materials each month. They estimate they have saved 1,600 trees in 2 1/?2 years.

The school pays more than $7,000 a year for their services. Of its annual income, more than half goes to scholarships to the school’s SAGE students, 37.5 percent to business and competition expenses and 10 percent for charitable donations and other expenses. Last year, SAGE distributed more than $4,500 in scholarships.

To go to Moscow, the group relied on about $20,000 in donations, including foundation and business support.

“It was a remarkable experience, given the state of global politics,” said Maureen Anderson, a City High teacher who, along with teacher Ted Zatezalo, went to Moscow with the students.

“It was without borders and barriers,” she said, noting competitors included students from Russia and Ukraine.

The team earned the honor to compete in Moscow by winning the national competition in May at the University of Pittsburgh. Last year, it also took first place in the nationals in Cincinnati, but the team ended up not going to the international competition in Nigeria because of safety concerns after a State Department travel warning stemming from an unstable political climate.

DeVaughn Davis, a senior from the North Side, was one of three current team members who would have gone to Nigeria. He said missing the competition only made him more determined to win this time.

At the competition, the students — some of whom hadn’t been out of the country before or even taken an airplane trip — made friends from around the world, some of whom they still contact on Facebook. They particularly got to know the Irish team, which ended up placing first with a business with water-saving devices.

Sam Richardson, a junior from Friendship, said she had never thought she’d leave the state, let alone the continent.

“It was pretty eye-opening to me,” said Bryce, who said he met some “awesome people.”

Santina Beneditti, a junior from Banksville, said, ”The best thing I learned was seeing the different cultures.“

Morgan Crist, a senior from Sarver, said she is “super, super proud” of having helped to form a business, something the group had ‘‘no idea“ about how to do beforehand.

Logan O’Hara, a sophomore from Brookline, said the competition has inspired him to want to continue building the business and develop leadership skills.

The team is working on developing a new product, likely related to energy conservation. And it is hoping to compete in South Korea next year.

City High’s SAGE group includes about 30 students and a wider array of activities than the business alone. It has made donations to various organizations, including collaborating with students in Burkina Faso, a small West African country, and contributing to charities ranging from Tree Pittsburgh to Heifer International. Members also have helped to clean up city parks and volunteer in community activities.


Pittsburgh – Lyft & Uber get a much deserved win

PUC approves emergency applications for Lyft, Uber to operate in Allegheny County

July 24, 2014 10:52 AM

By Kim Lyons / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission this morning approved emergency applications for ride-share companies Lyft and Uber to operate in Allegheny County.

The vote by the five commissioners was unanimous.

The agency’s Bureau of Technical Utility Services recommended approving the applications, even though the PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement had previously recommended denial.

A panel of administrative law judges with the PUC issued a cease-and-desist order for both companies July 1, but neither was deterred. Despite proposed fines of $1,000 per day and citations and fines against individual drivers, the companies have continued to operate.

Both companies have formal applications to begin experimental service in Pennsylvania which are still pending.