A Right to be Forgotten – the Curious Case of Claudio V. Cerullo

June 26, 2017

Earlier this week you may have read that a woman was convicted of manslaughter for encouraging a young man to take his life via text message. As put by Quintus Curtius, “[m]any voices wrongly saw this case as some sort of “free speech” issue; but closer examination of the facts paints the case in a very different light.” Namely, what she did went far beyond the pale, and her words crossed the line into criminal conduct. Words can have more of an affect than just a hurt feeling.

Over the years, my views on the First Amendment have evolved. When I first started practicing law, I’d describe myself as a total purist, and everyone should be able to say anything they want without any redress. To quote Marc Randazza, combat bad speech with good speech.

As I continued to practice and I saw more things, I started to believe that speech should not be completely unlimited, as words can have an impact on people’s careers, and this week even their lives.

Read the rest of this entry »


An Open Letter to Dr. Zach Ruff, a Downingtown Assistant Principal

May 11, 2017

Anyone who reads this blog probably knows some stuff about me. I’m a First Amendment lawyer. I’m a conservative. I’m even openly Christian.

As you’re probably also aware, this video has taken the internet by storm, straight from my hometown of Downingtown, PA:

Read the rest of this entry »


Where Should I Go to Law School?

May 6, 2017

Almost ten years into law practice, this is a discussion I’ve never had…

“Jordan, do you handle zoning?”
“Yep. All the time.”
“Excellent. Also, where did you go to law school?”
“Temple.”
“Um… dude…”
“Weren’t they a Tier 2 back in 2008, according to U.S. News and World Report?”
“I don’t know. I don’t read U.S. News and World Report.”
“This other guy up the street, he went to Fordham. That’s a Tier 1 school.”
“Okay…”
“Does he handle zoning?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I’d feel a lot more comfortable with a T1 law school grad…”

Read the rest of this entry »


Far From Home

April 28, 2017

I had never been to Elk County, Pennsylvania before. Almost five hours from Philadelphia, it never occurred to me that I would try a case out this way. Oh well, it’s a short one day bench trial, might as well enjoy the experience of seeing new places.

As I arrived late on a Sunday night, the area had a certain charm to it. Surrounded by state game land and steel factories, I felt like I had traveled back in time about 100 years. Things seemed much simpler out here.

Starving after a long drive, I pulled up into a diner and sat down next to a heavy fellow. We began striking up a conversation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Neil Brecher Wants to Silence Philly Law Blog

September 26, 2016


screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-52-17-pm

I wish I were making this up…

Long story short, I tried to help Salon Blush apply for a grant from SugarHouse Casino that other businesses getNeil Brecher said it was illegal, a deliberate fraud on the FNA, and that my conduct could jeopardize the organization’s 501(c)(3) status. He also accused me of misappropriating funds from the FNA.

It turns out that Neil Brecher’s allegations were completely false. When he refused to retract these statements, it eventually lead to litigation, which I bent over backwards trying to avoid.

Now it seems that no one is that disputing that Neil’s statements were false. Instead, Neil’s lawyers raised the First Amendment as a defense, arguing that:

[T]his matter deals with an issue of public concern. We have allegations that an individual used his position as the president of a civic association, comprised of members of a discrete community, to obtain a significant monetary grant for a private client without the association’s full notice. Even more significant, this individual happens to be an attorney, who is bound by certain ethical obligations. If he truly engaged in such conduct, then not only does the Fishtown community need to know and be able to openly discuss his conduct, but also, on a broader scale, the legal community ought to know about this conduct and should be able to openly debate the ethical implications of it.

I agree.

Because his lawyers said people ought to be debating this matter on a broader scale, I did what they said to and wrote it about the entire incident here:

https://phillylawblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/how-politics-may-destroy-the-fishtown-neighbors-association/

Now Neil Brecher is upset that I published his statements. He is so upset that he is asking a court to silence my blog:

https://www.scribd.com/document/325404884/Brecher-Motion

Brecher argues that my blog should be silenced because:

Upon information and belief, Rushie has been speaking about the case with members of the Fishtown community as well as the Philadelphia community at large.

What Neil did not mention is that his own attorney, Leo Mulvihill, has openly discussed this matter on Facebook:

messages-image1595874783

Meaning, Neil is arguing that he is allowed to make untrue statements because they are protected by the First Amendment, everyone should be talking about this matter public, and his own lawyer is allowed to comment about this case on Facebook.

But I’m not allowed to say anything.

This is my response to his motion:

https://www.scribd.com/document/325528109/AJR-Reply-Filed

PDQ also did a writeup.


Of Hair Salons, Taco Trucks, and Chili – How Politics May Destroy the Fishtown Neighbors Association

September 18, 2016

As some of you may know, there is currently ongoing litigation with me and the Fishtown Neighbors Association. Normally during litigation you’re not supposed to talk about it for fear that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. But according to the FNA’s last pleading submitted to the court:

[T]his matter deals with an issue of public concern. We have allegations that an individual used his position as the president of a civic association, comprised of members of a discrete community, to obtain a significant monetary grant for a private client without the association’s full notice. Even more significant, this individual happens to be an attorney, who is bound by certain ethical obligations. If he truly engaged in such conduct, then not only does the Fishtown community need to know and be able to openly discuss his conduct, but also, on a broader scale, the legal community ought to know about this conduct and should be able to openly debate the ethical implications of it.

I agree.

Let’s talk about it…

A brief background: I moved to Fishtown in 2006 because it was close to Temple Law, where I went to school. I lived under Dr. Slobodinsky’s office on Girard Ave, bounced over to Hewson Street the next year, and eventually bought my house at Boston and Memphis in 2009. I’ve maintained office space in 2424 Studios since 2010, and opened up my neighborhood law practice in 2012. Most of my law practice involves zoning. I have lived and worked in Fishtown for many years now.

I based a lot of my career and social life on doing local community activism. I spent three years in a leadership role with the Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA), serving as a board member at large, Vice President, and President.

Some of the more fun things I did was save historic banks on Front Street, fought a methadone clinic, and testified before the Philadelphia City Planning Commission about the new Fishtown zoning map. Through the FNA, I created a program called “Zoning 101” to help neighbors navigate the Philadelphia zoning process. And sometimes I helped people find  lost cats.

The FNA, which had previously been run out of individual board members’ homes and a P.O. box, moved its headquarters to my law office at 2424 Studios so that we had a permanent meeting space and somewhere to store our supplies. Mugshot Diner generously catered board meetings at no cost.

The FNA Chili Cookoff was also held each year in the 2424 Skybox. The owner generously donated the space to the FNA. It was convenient because all the supplies were housed in the FNA’s office on the third floor. I’m told that neighbors found the space to be easily accessible and child friendly. Plus, free beer.

Volunteering for the FNA was my passion. It was a pleasure to be part of a growing neighborhood, and hopefully make things around me better. I’d spend an average of three days a week in meetings and engaging in community activism. In my spare time, I would screen projects with the FNA Zoning Committee, and help write anti-SLAPP laws through Crosstown Coalition.

A year later, I’ve been excommunicated from the organization. The Chili Cookoff is now held at the Fillmore. The FNA no longer has office space and is run out of the Free Library. The organization’s bylaws were recently amended so that business owners are excluded from serving on the Board of Directors. Unlike civic other civic associations, the FNA will no longer help business owners apply for grants. Litigation is pending.

What happened?

It all starts with a small hair salon on York Street…

Read the rest of this entry »


Why I Support the Philadelphia Soda Tax

June 12, 2016

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion about the Philadelphia Soda Tax. Basically, the City of Philadelphia has decided to tax all beverages that contain sugar (high fructose corn syrup). This affects a whole lot of beverages.

According to Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax, it will mostly impact small businesses and people who are economically disadvantaged:

This regressive tax stands to hurt Philadelphia’s lower-income families and small businesses the most, burdening them with higher costs even though they are still struggling to emerge from the recession. It could also hurt retailers and restaurants, which are likely to lose sales and customers. It’s a slippery slope – this discriminatory tax is singling out beverages. Which grocery items are next?

So why would I support this, especially as a conservative? Shouldn’t I be supporting everyone’s right to do what they want, and oppose any taxation to regulate one’s freedom of choice?

It’s more complicated than you think, and the problem in the first place was actually created by the federal government…

Read the rest of this entry »