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Suit says public defense underfunded by $100M-plus

Plus, one school district's summary citations for students.

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Friday, June 14, 2024
Today: Inadequate defense, cop crimes, policing children, SCOTUS ruling, Aramark action, balloon scam, and Fetterman's driving record.
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The state has failed to live up to its constitutional responsibility to provide an effective defense to people who can't afford attorneys, the ACLU of Pennsylvania said in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The group brought the suit on behalf of 17 people facing issues including little to no contact with the public defenders they are entitled to, according to the lawsuit.

It was also filed on behalf of all current and future indigent people, those accused of a crime and unable to pay for a private defense attorney. If the court approves this group as a class, any outcome will extend to all of those affected.

The suit blames the state, not the counties, for failing to properly fund these constitutionally mandated services. It estimates it will need to spend at least $100 million to fulfill this obligation.

Read the full report: Pennsylvania public defense system is unconstitutional, underfunded by at least $100M, new ACLU suit says


"There is no tactical solution in place from the state and children are being forced to wait for answers."

—A statement from entertainment company Roc Nation explaining its controversial push to create a school voucher program in Pennsylvania.
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PROPERTY VALUE: Join us Thursday, June 20 from 6-7 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free panel discussion about how outdated property assessments affect schools, roads, and more. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A chipmunk carrying the groceries, via Robert N. Correction: Yesterday's photo cutline misidentified Core Creek Park in Bucks County as a state park. Have a photo of your own to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
A chipmunk carrying a large nut.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
'ABUSED BY THE BADGE': At least 1,800 law enforcement officers in the United States have been charged with child sex crimes in the past two decades, according to an investigation from the Washington Post (paywall). About 40% of convicted officers don't go to prison. Since 2008, at least seven law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania have been charged with crimes involving child sexual abuse, but all were sentenced only to probation.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
POLICE IN SCHOOLS: PennLive reports that in 2021, a 13-year-old Jeannette Junior-Senior High School student was taken to the ground by a police officer, an interaction caught on video. The news outlet also reported that dozens of summary citations have been issued to students in Jeannette schools. The citations, like traffic tickets, are criminal penalties that typically come with fines.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.PROTEST ARRESTS: About 50 people were arrested during a protest in Philadelphia on Wednesday, 6abc reports. Workers "calling for better wages and health care" from Aramark protested outside the company's headquarters and forced the closure of Market Street Bridge. Pennsylvania State Sen. Nikil Saval (D., Philadelphia) was among those arrested. About 300 union members attended the protest.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
UNANIMOUS DECISION: The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday voted to preserve access to mifepristone, the medication used in almost two-thirds of abortions, the Associated Press reports. The justices said plaintiffs didn't have the legal right to sue over the approval of the medication by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.NO TAMPERING: The NFL announced Thursday that it did not find "sufficient evidence" to support claims of tampering by the Philadelphia Eagles in its negotiation process with former Penn State runningback Saquon Barkley, per the Inquirer (paywall). Nittany Lions football coach James Franklin had sparked concerns by implying that Barkley had spoken directly to the Eagles' general manager, a violation of NFL rules.
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🤔 Great PA News Quiz: Which artist is facing backlash for their school voucher support?
HOT AIR: Allegheny County Police say multiple people were scammed into buying tickets for a nonexistent hot air balloon festival in the Pittsburgh area, WTAE reports.

STRIKE SET: A Northampton County Department of Human Services employee union is planning to strike "to protest stalled negotiations toward a new contract."

ARTS CLOSURE: Following the sudden closure of the UArts in Philadelphia last week, former students are filing a class-action lawsuit, WHYY reports.

DISTRACTED DRIVER: The Washington Post (paywall) reports that U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) had a history of speeding tickets and distracted driving incidents prior to last weekend's crash.

MUSIC CITY: Philadelphia played a key role in the creation of Black Music Month, which celebrated its 45th anniversary June 7, from Billy Penn.
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Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

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