Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MCRC News Release, Vol 1, Issue 2


Contact: Robert J. Kerns 610-279-9300

June 11, 2008 -- Montgomery County Republican Committee Chairman Robert J. Kerns today urged the County Commissioners to abide by their campaign promises and do everything in their power to keep the world-renowned Barnes Museum in its current location in Lower Merion.

The Commissioners must decide no later than Monday June 16th to appeal an adverse court ruling on the matter. Yesterday a coalition of people known as "the Friends of the Barnes" met with Commissioners Matthews, Castor and Hoeffel to urge them to appeal the ruling. At that meeting, Commissioner Castor, a lawyer, former District Attorney, and Shareholder/Director of the Blue Bell based litigation firm of Elliott, Greenleaf and Siedzikowski presented a legal analysis of the merits of an appeal. Castor concluded that the issue is not "settled law" as it related to the ability of a county government to bring a court action of this type, and further determined that the County could not possibly face any "sanctions" from the court for taking an appeal since Pennsylvania law allows losing parties to appeal without fear of reprisals.

Upon reading a news account of the meeting the commissioners had with Friends of the Barnes, Kerns asked Castor his legal reasoning. Kerns, a lawyer and former county solicitor (who worked with Commissioner Hoeffel) concurred with Castor's conclusions: "It would be a tragedy for the county to lose the Barnes. There is absolutely no down side to the county filing an appeal. Commissioner Castor's legal analysis is right on the money. Every litigant is entitled to an appeal."

In May, a Montgomery County Judge ruled that a county lacked "standing" to bring a court action to try and keep the collection from being moved to Philadelphia. However, that question has not yet been addressed by the state supreme court. The trial judge relied on a court decision from a court lower than the supreme court in making its determination that the county lacked standing. The judge also ruled that the county had a reasonable basis for bringing the suit and that therefore no "sanctions" were warranted.

Concluded Kerns: "All the commissioners are on record saying they would do whatever they could to 'save the Barnes.' Now is the time to step to the plate."

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