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and Chief Counsel

Christopher A. Ferrara, Esq.

Vice-President and
Associate Counsel

Thomas F. Portelli, Esq.

Pennsylvania Litigation
Denis V. Brenan, Esq.

West Coast Litigation
James M. Bendell, Esq.

Director of Apologetics
Gerald Christian Matatics


Advisory Board

Msgr. Charles T. Moss

Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.

Fr. Willian F. Ashley

Fr. John A. Perricone

Count Neri Capponi


(For the details of all pending Association matters, please subscribe to our newsletter.)

August 9, 2004:  Major Federal Court Victory in Philadelphia

ALLENTOWN, PA:  On August 9, 2004, Association attorneys achieved a major pro-life victory in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Honorable James McGirr Kelly granted a permanent injunction in favor of pro-life activists who demonstrate in front of an abortion mill in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

For months our pro-life clients have been hassled, maliciously prosecuted, and otherwise browbeaten and intimidated by the local police, acting in conjunction with the mayor and assistant police chief of Allentown. Among other things, the police were attempting to use a permit ordinance designed for parades and other large events to prohibit out clients’ presence near the abortion mill.

In his decision, Judge Kelly declared that the application of the “permit” requirement to our clients’ protests was unconstitutional. Judge Kelly then ordered the City of Allentown, its mayor, police chief, and assistant police chief to cease their attempts to require a “permit” for our clients’ protest activities.

In short, Judge Kelly has vindicated the First Amendment rights of pro-life activists in the City of Allentown, and his courageous decision will send a message to other police departments which, even now, are attempting to use “permit” and “obstruction of traffic” ordinances to harass, intimidate, and prosecute pro-lifers who seek to exercise their First Amendment rights on the public sidewalks.

This victory required many hours of dogged and exhausting legal work: motions, briefs, the preparation and examination of witnesses at hearings, the review of transcripts, the preparation of findings of fact and findings of law. And the battle is not over. The City of Allentown may well appeal Judge Kelly’s decision, which will require us to continue the fight in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and perhaps all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Christopher A. Ferrara to Defend
Fr. Michael McMahon Against “Buddhist” Lawsuit

GRAND RAPIDS, MI:  Christopher A. Ferrara, Chief Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers Association, will be defending Fr. Michael McMahon of the Society of St. Pius X in the widely reported “Buddhists in the basilica” case arising in Grand Rapids, MI.

Fr. McMahon was sued by one Glen Freeman, sacristan of The Basilica of St. Adalbert in Grand Rapids, who claims to be acting on behalf of a group of seven Tibetan Buddhist monks.

The monks were invited to the basilica’s sanctuary last February to “demonstrate” Hindu chants and prayers. When Fr. McMahon and a group of traditionalist Catholics continuously prayed the Rosary in the pews, the Buddhists eventually left without giving their “demonstration.”

Freeman seeks damages for “costs” allegedly incurred when the demonstration did not proceed. (The Bishop of Grand Rapids, Kevin Britt, who apparently approved the event, died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 59 last May.)

“I look forward to defending a very fine and courageous priest in a First Amendment case of considerable importance,” said Ferrara, a specialist in First Amendment litigation who has been admitted “pro hac vice” to the local court and will handle the case pro bono.

“These faithful Catholics, Fr. McMahon included, had every right to pray in a Catholic Church. It is absurd that a Catholic sacristan is suing his fellow Catholics on behalf of Buddhists, based on Catholic prayers being said in a Catholic sanctuary”, said Ferrara.

Ferrara said he will be taking a pretrial deposition of Freeman shortly, and that he will appear to defend the case at trial should he not obtain a dismissal.

The Association to File Suit for
Catholic Victims of Housing Discrimination

DELAWARE:  The Association has agreed to assist a Catholic couple in a claim for discrimination against them as residents in an apartment complex financed by the Department Housing and Urban Development. The claim arises from a discriminatory demand that this devout Catholic couple remove the crucifix they were displaying on the balcony of their apartment.

The management of the apartment complex, which is operated by an affiliate of B’nai Brith, had cited a supposed policy forbidding the hanging of any ornaments on balconies. Investigation revealed, however, that the balconies of this apartment complex were filled with hangings of various kinds and that only the crucifix had been objected to.

This case is yet another example of official hostility to the symbols of Christianity, but not to the symbols of other religions. This unconstitutional double standard cannot and will not be tolerated when it comes to the right of Catholics to express their loyalty and devotion to Christ the King.

The Association Enters an Appearance for Pro-Life Victim of Police Harassment

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY:  The Association will be defending pro-life activist Helen Westover in connection with a charge of “protesting without a permit” in Yorktown Heights, New York. Helen not only had her sign confiscated, she was arrested, placed in manacles like a common criminal and confined to a jail cell for the better part of a day.

This outrageous false arrest was an obvious violation of Helen’s constitutional rights, as our victories in the cases discussed above make clear. We will defend Helen against this groundless criminal charge and pursue all other available state and federal remedies for this deprivation of her constitutional rights.

Helen is a very courageous woman who has, more than once, been subjected to vicious abuse and persecution by local police. Readers may recall that in another such incident, in 2001, we represented Helen in her successful claim for false arrest which resulted in a large financial settlement to her, which she has largely devoted to the pro-life cause.


LOWVILLE, NY:  In what appears to be the first trial court application of New York's Clinic Access Law, pro-life activist Victoria Kraeger was acquitted of a charge of alleged "interference" with clinic access, after a trial in which she was defended by ACLA Chief Counsel, Christopher A. Ferrara.

Mrs. Kraeger had been indicted based upon a sidewalk encounter with the client of a local Planned Parenthood clinic.  This was precisely the same incident that gave rise to a prior federal contempt proceeding, in which chief counsel Christopher A. Ferrara obtained a dismissal following an evidentiary hearing.

"An important victory for the First Amendment rights of pro-life activists throughout the State of New York.  It demonstrates that pro-life speech is not a crime just because people don't want to hear it," said Mr. Ferrara after the verdict.

The Association also helped the Kraeger family to avoid paying a federal court judgement of $80,000 under the FACE law.  Afterwards, Mrs. Kraeger wrote as follows to the ACLA:

"I am writing to thank you for all the hard work and good advice you and the ACLA staff put forth on our behalf.  When the federal judge told us we would have to pay $80,000, I thought, 'the pro-aborts will be taking our farm!'  There was no way we could pay $80,000...

"Because of the professional staff at ACLA, we no longer feel threatened...Most importantly, we can re-focus our efforts away from the courtroom and back to the sidewalk, offering help to women...and hopefully saving babies."



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