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Attorney Aaron Martin Secures Permanent Injunction Against Bucks County District Attorney

by | Jan 18, 2024 | Industry News, Latest News, Martin, Aaron D

Attorney Aaron Martin of the Harrisburg law firm of Mette, Evans & Woodside recently secured a permanent injunction on behalf of a client against the District Attorney of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The injunction protects Mr. Martin’s client from criminal prosecution under a provision of Pennsylvania’s Educator Discipline Act.

On January 10, 2024, Judge Karen Spencer Marston of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued the injunction in response to a First Amendment challenge to the law Mr. Martin had filed on behalf of a client identified in the case under the pseudonym “John Doe.” The law prohibits individuals from disclosing the fact of the filing of a misconduct complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  The law also prohibits individuals from disclosing the contents of a misconduct complaint and how the Department has acted in response.  An exception arises in cases where a misconduct complaint has led to public discipline.

Mr. Martin’s client filed a professional misconduct complaint, and the Department of Education dismissed the complaint without taking action. The client wanted to disclose this fact and criticize the Department for its failure to act.  However, disclosure of such information is punishable under the law as a third-degree misdemeanor. Mr. Martin’s client thus faced potential prosecution from the District Attorney if he would disclose the Department’s failure to pursue disciplinary proceedings in response to his complaint.

Judge Marston agreed with Mr. Martin’s argument that the law’s restrictions on the client’s freedom of speech was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The court’s injunction permanently protects the client from prosecution by the District Attorney if he should disclose publicly the complaint that he filed and the Department’s letter in response stating that it would not take action against the subject of the complaint.  Mr. Martin was assisted in the case by Sarah E. Straub, an associate of the firm. The case is Doe v. Schorn, U.S.D.C. 2:23-cv-3252 (E.D. Pa.).

Link to attorney Aaron D. Martin’s bio.