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Author Archives: Matthew R. Zatko

In Medical Malpractice Cases, Insurers Pay — Doctors Don’t

For people who have been injured or who have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, an important question that arises is how to recover the monetary damages that are due. In Pennsylvania, compensation for a medical malpractice injury comes principally from a professional liability insurance company.  Under the MCARE (Medical Care Availability and… Read More »

Be Careful What You Post! Understanding Defamation, Slander and Libel

In the 30 years since it was first launched to the public, the World Wide Web has given people an unlimited forum to air information and opinions publicly to wide audiences. This opening up of discourse has provided opportunities for countless bloggers, commentators and others outside the traditional journalism profession to have their voices heard…. Read More »

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Restricts Vehicle Searches by Police

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision limits the power of police to search vehicles after pulling them over. Unless they have a warrant, officers must demonstrate both probable cause and “exigent circumstances,” such as that evidence will be lost or destroyed if a search of the vehicle is not performed. The new rule should provide… Read More »

Is Pennsylvania on the Cusp of Legalizing Recreational Marijuana?

It’s been less than five years since Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill that legalized medical marijuana and just over two years since the first Pennsylvania dispensaries opened. In that time, dispensaries have sold more than $1 billion worth of marijuana to approved patients. Marijuana has proven to be big business, which has some people… Read More »

Bill Cosby Case Focuses on Admissibility of “Prior Bad Acts” Testimony

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is deciding whether five witnesses in Bill Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault trial should have been barred from testifying about “prior bad acts” that may have influenced the jury verdict. The prosecutor used the testimony to establish that Cosby engaged in a long-term pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior. Cosby was ultimately convicted… Read More »

Federal Prosecutors Charging Protestors with Crimes Under Civil Rights-Era Law

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia and other large cities around the country have revived a little-used criminal law from the 1960s civil rights era to charge protestors with obstructing law enforcement during the unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd. The Civil Disobedience Act of 1968 makes it a felony to “obstruct law enforcement in… Read More »

When Can Deadly Force Be Used in Defense of a Home or Other Place of Security?

One nightmare everyone dreads is being awakened by the sound of breaking glass or other unexpected noise coming from downstairs and encountering an intruder. In that scenario, what can you do to protect yourself, your family and your possessions? Pennsylvania follows the “castle doctrine,” a legal principle allowing you to use deadly force against someone… Read More »

Why Would the Police Pull You Over When You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong?

You are driving on a Pennsylvania highway and you notice a police car following you, even though you’re not speeding, driving erratically or otherwise violating traffic laws. Suddenly, the police car’s lights are flashing. As you’re pulling to the side of the road, you’re thinking, “What did I do wrong?” The answer may be nothing…. Read More »

What Types of Charges Can Get You on the Sex Offender Registry, and for How Long?

Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), popularly known as Megan’s Law, has been on the books since 1995. SORNA requires that certain designated adult and juvenile sex offenders register with the Pennsylvania State Police. People on the registry must report periodically to the State Police and provide information about changes in employment or… Read More »

Good People Make Bad Decisions: Why ARD Is Designed for You

A person who has gone their entire life without getting into legal trouble might one day get behind the wheel after too many drinks, use recreational marijuana or make another poor decision that leads to a low-level criminal charge. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has a specific remedy. The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program offers people who make… Read More »