News Briefing: March 20-26, 2015

News Briefing: March 20-26, 2015

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Google Plus

D.A. to meet with Nizah committee

The District Attorney’s Office has agreed to meet with a contingent of Justice for Nizah (J4N) committee members. D.A. Seth Williams was expected to attend the 10 a.m. meeting March 18 at the D.A.’s Office in Center City.

Information about the outcome of the meeting was unavailable by presstime.

Nizah Morris was a transgender woman found with a fatal head wound shortly after a “courtesy ride” from Philadelphia police in 2002.

Her homicide remains unsolved, and advocates want a state probe.

J4N members who met with Williams include former state Rep. Babette Josephs, attorney Charles P. Goodwin and community advocate Rich Wilson.

At a J4N meeting on March 16, the members expressed hope that the D.A. meeting would establish an ongoing dialogue. 

They also intended to ask Williams to help ensure transparency in the Morris case by opening the agency’s investigative files for review.

Additionally, J4N members requested that a representative of the D.A.’s Office attend a panel discussion about the Morris case 6-8 p.m. April 15 at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DUI sentencing rescheduled

The DUI sentencing for Richard Patterson has been postponed again due to scheduling conflicts.

On May 11, 2002, around 2:30 a.m., Patterson allegedly sideswiped another vehicle on the 900 block of Walnut Street.

In January, Patterson was convicted of DUI. The only witness against Patterson was Elizabeth Skala, his arresting officer.

In December 2002, Skala gave Nizah Morris a Center City “courtesy ride.” Shortly after the ride, the trans woman was found by passing motorists with a fractured skull. Her homicide remains unsolved.

Municipal Court Judge Craig M. Washington was scheduled to sentence Patterson on March 13. But the judge was unavailable.

The new sentencing date is 10 a.m. March 24 in Room 903 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert St.

In a prior interview, defense attorney Michael L. Doyle said an appeal in Common Pleas Court is likely, and the Morris incident may be raised at that time.

Patterson faces up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine. He remains free on bail.

No ruling yet in cop’s legal-fee request

A year after a hearing was held on whether the city should pay the legal fees of a Philadelphia police officer accused of sexually assaulting another man, a ruling hasn’t yet been issued.

Officer Michael A. Paige’s request for almost $200,000 from the city to reimburse him for legal fees in the sexual-assault case remains pending before Common Pleas Court Judge Jacqueline F. Allen.

James Harris says Paige sexually assaulted him in a secluded area of Fairmount Park in 2007.

Although Paige was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, a federal jury in 2012 awarded Harris $165,000 in damages.

Paige contends the city should have defended him during his federal trial. He’s seeking $189,995.91 from the city to cover his private attorney’s legal fees.

But city attorneys say sexual assault isn’t within the scope of a police officer’s employment duties. Thus, Paige isn’t entitled to reimbursement from the city for his legal fees.

— Timothy Cwiek

Youth org brings Grammy-winning rapper to fundraiser

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Philadelphia FIGHT’s Youth Health Empowerment Project (Y-HEP) with a ’90s-themed fundraiser.

“This is How We Do It” takes place 7-11 p.m. March 20 at the Moore College of Art and Design, 1916 Race St., and features cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres, dancing and music by Grammy Award-winning producer, rapper and writer DJ Spinderella, from the legendary rap duo Salt-N-Pepa.

Proceeds from the event will support the expansion of Y-HEP’s therapeutic services and enable the organization to offer PrEP to more young people.

General-admission tickets are $125 and VIP tickets are $250 or $400 for couples.

Y-HEP provides high-risk adolescents and young adults in Philadelphia with holistic health services, sexual education, drop-in day services and leadership activities.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

— Ryan Kasley

Forum to address Catholicism, Ethical Humanism

The Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia will host a discussion at 11 a.m. March 22 at the Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, about Catholic Ethical Humanism.

The event will be led by Richard Kiniry, Leader Emeritus of the Society. Kiniry will address whether Ethical Culture could be attractive to disaffected Catholics and what the Ethical Humanists could learn from Catholicism.

The discussion is open to the public. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 215-735-3456 or visit

— Jen Colletta

Find us on Facebook
Follow Us
Find Us on YouTube
Find Us on Instagram
Sign Up for Our Newsletter