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Author Archives: Matthew R. Zatko

Pros and Cons of Living Trusts vs. Wills

Every adult, whether wealthy or not, should have a will or a living trust so that they can make clear how they want their estate distributed when they die. There are pros and cons to using a living trust versus a will. If you have a will, it must go through probate when you die…. Read More »

Pennsylvania’s Expanded “Move Over” Law: Potential Penalties and Liabilities

Like many states, Pennsylvania has a law in effect that requires drivers to slow down or move over one lane when vehicles are stopped on the side of the road. The original purpose of the “move over” law was to protect emergency responders and road service workers who stop on the shoulder or in the… Read More »

Self-Defense Argument Leads to Dismissal of Assault Charges in Bedford County Activist Shooting

A recent case in Bedford County, Pennsylvania shows the effectiveness of a justification defense in a criminal assault prosecution. My firm won dismissal of the most serious charges faced by a local man who fired a shotgun at a group of activists that were trespassing on family-owned property. On the evening of August 24, 2020,… Read More »

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 »