News Releases


News releases regarding important events and development involving legal aid in Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network are listed below:


The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) honored twenty-two recipients of the PLAN Excellence Awards at its annual awards banquet on Tuesday evening, March 15, 2016 at the Harrisburg Hilton. PLAN Excellence Award honorees includes legal aid advocates, private attorneys, lay advocates, community organizations and government groups who demonstrated excellence in their daily work providing access to justice to people regardless of their ability to pay.


Excellence Awards 2016

The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards.  

Each year, PLAN requests nominations from across the Commonwealth and honors individuals, groups, and/or organizations that have established excellence and diligence improving the availability and quality of civil legal services for low income people and victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania.


The Honorable Debra McCloskey Todd, Supreme Court of PennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) honored the recipients of the 2015 Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Excellence Awards on March 23, 2015 at the annual awards dinner held at the Hilton Harrisburg. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Debra McCloskey Todd served as the keynote speaker for the event.


Attorney Carrie M. Bowmaster says is glad to be working in York for many reasons. First and foremost, she will get to help a lot of people in need. “My chief goal in going to law school 24 years ago was to help people.  I’ve gone back and forth between private practice and legal aid. Helping people remained my number one goal.” She has been with MidPenn for the last eight years. “We have great staff in our York MidPenn office.  I’ve been working here part time for a few months and I know they care about our clients.  They look for any way they can to be of assistance.” In addition, she says she is thrilled to be working with the very active York County Bar Association.


Robert B. Hamilton, Esq.

The MidPenn Low-Income Tax Clinic (LITC) will provide free representation for low-income taxpayers who need legal assistance to resolve disputes with the Internal Revenue Service.  Attorney Robert B. Hamilton has joined the Cumberland County MidPenn Legal Services Office to do this work.

MidPenn Executive Director Rhodia D. Thomas says, “The IRS has provided these grants to better assist taxpayers and encourage voluntary compliance.  It is a complicated area and they want to make it easier to get answers and resolutions.”


Coalition Urges Creation of New Commission

A report released by the Pennsylvania Civil Legal Justice Coalition on May 6, 2014 concludes that the staggering number of unrepresented low-income litigants in civil legal matters adversely impacts the quality of justice for all parties in Pennsylvania courts, negatively impacts the courts’ administration of justice and undermines the rule of law.

The report, which was released at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recommends the creation of a first-ever Access to Justice Commission to serve as a vehicle for studying and implementing measures to expand access to justice in the state.


Decision of Judges Panella and Gantman Strikes the Right Balance

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision in the case IN RE: S.H., O.H., and N.H., Docket No. 2209 EDA 2011. The three judge panel (Judge Stevens dissenting) ruled that a father has the ability to show he should have custody of his children when it is in their best interests, even when an order of "permanent custody" has been issued in the case under the Juvenile Act.


Pennsylvania Legal Aid NetworkHARRISBURG, Pa., March 20, 2013 --- The Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) will honor ten recipients of the 2013 Excellence Awards at its annual awards banquet on Wednesday evening, March 20, 2013 at the Harrisburg Hilton.  Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Yvette R.

Judge Chester Harhut, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Sam Milkes
Judge Chester Harhut, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Sam Milkes

The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN, Inc.) has elected the Honorable Chester Harhut of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas in Scranton, PA as its President. He succeeds prominent Philadelphia attorney Gerald A. McHugh, Jr. of Raynes, McCarty. The Board also appointed Wesley R. Payne, Esq. of White and Williams, LLP in Harrisburg, PA as President-Elect; Thomas A. Tupitza of Knox, McLaughlin in Erie, PA as Treasurer; and client representative Marsha W. Mathis as Secretary.

Every county in Pennsylvania is served by a PLAN legal aid program, and in these difficult economic times, the need for legal aid has escalated considerably. Last year, legal aid helped nearly 10,000 clients who are faced with mortgage foreclosures and represented more than 12,000 domestic violence clients in protection from abuse proceedings


Pennsylvania Legal Aid NetworkThe Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) will honor ten recipients of the 2012 Excellence Awards at its annual awards banquet on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at the Harrisburg Hilton. The Honorable John E. Jones III, United States District Judge of the Middle District of Pennsylvania will be the featured speaker.