News briefing Oct. 3-9, 2014

News briefing Oct. 3-9, 2014

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Out judge suspended

Openly gay Municipal Court Judge Dawn Segal, elected in 2010, was suspended from the bench last week amid an investigation of corruption charges of a fellow judge.

The state Supreme Court last Wednesday suspended Segal and Joseph O’Neill. The action came after former Municipal Judge Joseph Waters, Jr., pleaded guilty to mail and honest-services wire fraud. During the course of the investigation, Waters admitted to placing phone calls to two judges, asking them to fix cases for friends. Those judges were later identified as Segal and O’Neill.

Neither Segal nor O’Neill has formally been accused of wrongdoing, but will be prevented from presiding over cases as the Judicial Conduct Board examines their alleged interaction with Waters.


Possible MontCo deal

Under a potential settlement agreement, Pennsylvania will recognize as valid about a quarter of the marriages performed in Montgomery County last summer.

The potential deal comes in Ballen v. Wolf, in which dozens of same-sex couples sued the state for recognition of their marriage certificates issued by Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes, who last summer spent several weeks issuing licenses before being halted by a judge.

About 200 couples were issued licenses, but the settlement would only affect 27 couples included as plaintiffs in the suit; the rest would remain unmarried, unless they have since obtained a new license. As part of the agreement, the couples’ marriage dates would be moved to May 20, 2014, the day Pennsylvania legalized same-sex marriage.

In a separate case, Hanes is continuing his appeal of the judge’s order that found he did not have authority to issue licenses based on his finding that the now-defunct ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

— Jen Colletta


Rebuttal brief filed in Milano case

Attorneys for Frank R. Chester filed a rebuttal brief Sept. 12, claiming their client had minimal involvement in the murder of gay artist Anthony Milano.

In December 1987, Milano’s body was found in a wooded area of Bristol Township, with most of his throat gone. Shortly before his death, Milano was seen leaving a nearby tavern with Chester and Richard R. Laird.

Bucks County prosecutors called Milano’s murder an antigay hate crime, and Chester and Laird were sentenced to death in 1988.

But Chester claims he received ineffective assistance from his trial attorney, and he wants his convictions overturned.

The Sept. 12 brief filed on Chester’s behalf claims his trial attorney had an “avalanche of personal and professional woes,” which rendered him ineffective.

The brief also claims that Laird, not Chester, stabbed Milano to death.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit must decide whether to void all of Chester’s convictions, including second-degree murder and kidnapping.

Meanwhile, Chester, 45, and Laird, 51, remain on death row in Pennsylvania state prisons. Laird’s appeal for a new trial remains pending in the state Supreme Court.


Jewish event at JCAA

Jewish Pride, an LGBT initiative of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, is sponsoring “SukkOUT,” in celebration of the annual Jewish holiday Sukkot.

The event will be held 6-7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in the courtyard of the John C. Anderson Apartments, 251 S. 13th St.

An $18 cover charge is requested, but the event is free to Anderson residents.

Wine and vegetarian food will be served.

Guests are asked to bring non-perishable food items for Federation’s Mitvah Food Project and Mazzoni Center’s Food Bank.

Elinor Sidi, executive director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, will be a featured guest.

“We ask that people register by Oct. 7, so we can plan accordingly,” said Jay Steinberg, an event organizer. “But we welcome walk-ins that evening as well.”

Attendees can eat inside a sukkah, a make-shift dwelling symbolizing the huts that Israelites lived in while wandering in the Sinai desert for 40 years before reaching Israel.

For more information, contact Steinberg at 215-832-0888 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

— Timothy Cwiek


Event promotes Latino AIDS awareness

The 11th annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day celebration will take place 12:30-5 p.m. Oct. 11 at Fairhill Square Park, Fourth Street and Lehigh Avenue.

The event is free and will include a number of medical services such as HIV and Hep. C testing and health screenings.

There will also be raffles, music, food, face painting and live performances.

The event is presented by GALAEI: A Queer Latin@ Social Justice Organization.

For more information, contact Zahira Soto at 215-763-8870 ext. 7125.

— Ryan Kasley

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