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.

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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:

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Neil Brecher Wants to Silence Philly Law Blog

September 26, 2016


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:


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


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:


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:


PDQ also did a writeup.

Apparently you do not have a First Amendment right to photograph the police in Pennsylvania. Unless you do a little jig.

February 22, 2016

This could be a significant blow to the First Amendment, as apparently videotaping the police is not protected speech in Pennsylvania. Unless, of course, you also decide to yell at them or do a jig at the same time.

I wish I were joking, but I’m not…

Two cases before the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, were recently consolidated into one for the purpose of determining “whether photographing or filming police on our portable devices without challenging police is expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.”

This is the trial court’s entire opinion, if you want to read the decision in its entirety.

The underlying facts are simple:

In the first case, Temple University student Richard Fields was standing on the sidewalk. There were 20 police officers standing outside a house party. Fields thought it was worth photographing for whatever reason. The police officer asked Fields to leave and stop taking pictures. Fields refused and continued to film. The police officer then took his phone and arrested him. Fields wasn’t taping the matter to protest the police or anything like that. He simply felt like recording it, maybe to put on Facebook, Instragram, or Philly Law Blog (holla!). The student did not claim to be protesting the police (or the house party for that matter), but merely recording the event.

In the second case, Amanda Geraci was at a protest. During the protest, the Philadelphia police arrested one of the protestors. Geraci moved closer to get a better view and hoped to videotape the incident. Geraci claims Officer Brown “attacked her” by physically restraining her against a pillar and preventing her from videotaping the arrest. Geraci claims that “I was just legal observing.”

Both sued the Philadelphia Police Department under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for First Amendment Retaliation.

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RooshV And His Family Get Lynched By the Social Justice Mob

February 7, 2016

badb65c2868bc2a60c9bdd0ff56be419Rape is currently a hot button issue. There are those who argue that a “rape culture” has been created across the United States, and that our women are in danger everywhere. On the other hand, there are bloggers like Scott Greenfield who have suggested that there is a difference between rape and regret.

We draw a fine legal line when it comes to the definition of consensual sex and due process. As Scott Greenfield put it, “[t]he law requires reason, or it fails to sustain its legitimacy.”

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This Is the Article Central High School Doesn’t Want You To Read

January 9, 2016

A few weeks ago, Central High School student Michael Moroz wrote a piece for the student newspaper. It was part of a series on “Black Lives Matter”. One student wrote a piece supportive of Black Lives Matter, while Michael wrote a piece that was critical. Both articles were approved by a member of the faculty prior to publication. This is a PDF of both articles.

Michael’s piece created a firestorm of controversy at his school with the both the faculty and students. Since writing it, Michael has been subject to death threats and harassment. Others have called on the University of Pennsylvania to revoke Michael’s admission. All because they felt his view wasn’t the “right” one.

Yes, you read that right – there are people who want to destroy the life of a 17 year old young man because he has an opinion different than theirs.

Further, Central High School initially removed Michael’s article without removing the article supportive of Black Lives Matter. Then both articles were removed. Timothy McKenna, Central’s president — the school’s principal also serves as its president — admitted Tuesday that in hindsight, both pieces should have been removed simultaneously.

While Central High School might support censorship, Philly Law Blog does not. This is the article that Central High School doesn’t want you to read.
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Can Lawyers Get Away With Anything? Court Declares the Dragonetti Act Unconstitutional

December 26, 2015

Generally, Pennsylvania attorneys’ actions are governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. However, if an attorney abuses process by filing and maintaining a lawsuit that was either grossly negligent or without probable cause, the attorney can also be held liable in a civil court under what’s known as the Dragonetti Act, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8351.

The standard to hold an attorney liable is high. Not only does one have to file and maintain a lawsuit that was either grossly negligent or without probable cause, but it also has to terminate favorably on the merits. This means you can go through years of frivolous litigation with little to no recourse. More often than not, litigants get burned out from incurring legal fees, and simply settle the case rather than take a chance on recovering their fees in a Dragonetti Action.

Nevertheless, and despite it’s high burdens, the Dragonetti Act is particularly important because Pennsylvania does not have an anti-SLAPP statute.

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