Resource: ACLU of Pennsylvania v. Montgomery County et al.

By: ACLU of Pennsylvania

May 20, 2021

ACLU of Pennsylvania

From October 2020 to March 2021, ACLU-associated lawyers met with people held at the jail several dozen times to investigate allegations of constitutional violations. But in March 2021, those meetings ended when jail administrators informed the lawyers that they could only meet with people in the jail if they had court documentation or a formal letter of agreement of representation with the people they were meeting. On March 23, ACLU-PA sent a letter to jail administrators and the county to warn them that they were in violation of the constitution. The county never responded, and ACLU-associated lawyers have not been allowed to meet with anyone inside the jail since then. The lawsuit accuses the county of violating the ACLU-PA’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association and the due process rights of the people held in the jail. It also accuses the county of engaging in retaliation for ACLU-PA’s advocacy, which has included criticizing the county for firing its top two public defenders in 2020, filing a class-action lawsuit against the county for charging people duplicative court costs in criminal cases and submitting a Right to Know request for the jail’s admissions logs, which the county denied.