The firm is committed to law in the public interest. Two of our attorneys, John Grogan and Irv Ackelsberg, spent their formative years as lawyers in the public interest sector. John co-founded and directed the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice, Inc., a law office dedicated to representing the working poor. Irv spent thirty years with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, one of the nation’s premier civil legal aid programs. Ned Diver is a member of the board and the Legal Committee of the local chapter of the ACLU, and all of the firm’s attorneys have dedicated considerable pro bono hours to complex immigration, civil rights, and election law matters
The firm invests substantial resources into public interest litigation. We do these cases in partnership with public interest organizations. The firm has also established the Langer, Grogan & Diver Fund for Social Justice, which supports public interest law in the Philadelphia region. In 2009, the Fund established the Langer, Grogan & Diver Public Interest Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The Fellowship funds a graduating student’s first year of work in the public interest.
The firm is currently co-counseling with Justice at Work (formerly Friends of Farmworkers) in a labor trafficking case. Castillo Chaidez v. Hemphill (E.D. Pa.).
In Fields v. City of Philadelphia, 862 F.3d 353 (3d Cir. 2017), John Grogan and Peter Leckman partnered with the ACLU of Philadelphia and obtained a ruling from the Third Circuit establishing that citizens have a First Amendment right to observe and record police activity. An article in The Atlantic described the decision as “a significant milestone”: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/a-major-victory-for-the-right-to-record-police/533031/
In 2008, Irv Ackelsberg, representing patrons of the Free Library of Philadelphia, successfully enjoined the mayor of Philadelphia from closing eleven neighborhood branches of the library. Westbrook v. Nutter (Phila. Common Pleas).
Buck v. Stankovic, 485 F. Supp. 2d 576 (M.D. Pa. 2007). Working with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the firm successfully enjoined a Pennsylvania county from refusing to issue a marriage license to an American citizen and her undocumented immigrant fiancée.
NEWS EVENTS AND RELATED CASE EVENTS
ACLU of Pennsylvania Announces Settlements in Philadelphia Lawsuits That Established a First Amendment Right to Record the Police
PHILADELPHIA (December 5) – The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania announced today that it has settled two lawsuits against the city of Philadelphia after police unlawfully retaliated against people who recorded them carrying out their duties. The litigation stemmed from two separate incidents in 2012 and 2013 but were argued together in federal court, leading to a landmark ruling in July from the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that there is a First Amendment right to record the police in public.
It’s been almost three years now since Commissioner Charles Ramsey issued a directive to Philly Police, letting them know that it’s entirely legal for the public to record officers doing their work and making arrests — as long as the photographer doesn’t interfere with that police work.
Job applicants to Rite Aid Corp. won a round in their fight over the company’s pre-employment background checks, when a Pennsylvania federal judge on Wednesday denied the company’s motion to strike the designation of the putative class action as related to a similar case, saying both suits share a central core of common facts.
ACLU-PA and Civil Rights Attorneys File First in Series of Lawsuits over Illegal Arrests for Observing and Recording Philadelphia Police
PHILADELPHIA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of Christopher Montgomery, a Philadelphia resident who was arrested for using his cellphone to record an arrest.
Shannon Duffy covers LGD’s successful representation in Buck v. Stankovic, in a page one article entitled No Wedding Bell Blues in The Legal Intelligencer. A federal judge ruled that a county official cannot deny a marriage license to a couple simply because an applicant does not have a current visa or green card.