Into the Lion’s Den

On May 12, 2017, Popper & Yatvin partner Alan L. Yatvin presented at a continuing education program sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP). Alan attended the program in Harrisburg as a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA), to speak to the audience of county solicitors on Selected Civil Rights Issues: The ACLU Perspective.

Breaking the ice early, Alan observed that while he had on occasion presented to audiences with an adverse perspective, doing so before Pennsylvania county solicitors as a representative of the ACLU felt like going into the lion’s den wearing bacon underwear. The attendees were actually quite welcoming to Alan and his co-presenter, Michael R. Lettrich, an attorney with the Pittsburgh firm Jones Passodelis, whose practice includes representation of municipalities in civil rights matters.

Topics covered included:

  • County obligations and liabilities associated with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainers (also known as an “ICE hold” or an “immigration hold”)
  • Jail medical claims involving
    • mental health issues
    • solitary confinement
    • suicide
    • opiate addiction
    • diabetes care
  • County drug task forces
  • Asset forfeiture
  • Fines and costs related incarceration

The attendees were animated throughout the 90 minute session, as they engaged Alan and Michael on how their county clients could improve their systems to avoid causing injury and creating liability, particularly in the areas of ICE detainers and prison medical care.

At the close of his presentation, Alan extended an invitation from ACLU-PA Deputy Legal Director, Mary Catherine Roper, to feel free to call her to discuss any issues that might arise to obtain the ACLU perspective and try to address problems before they turned into litigation.  Most of the solicitors were skeptical, but some seemed to appreciate the offer.  Nonetheless, Alan and the ACLU-PA appreciated the opportunity for this dialogue.  As a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association, Alan was also pleased to be approached after his presentation with some questions about diabetes issues.

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