Courts suspend ‘Birther’ lawyer

By on March 12, 2014

Attorney also filed 2007 suit related to the shooting of Lititz police officer Jevon Miller

 

Attorney Philip J. Berg is best know in Lititz for suing 19 law enforcement defendants linked to the death of a man who shot Lititz police officer Jevon Miller in 2005.

He is also known nationally for his 2008 “birther” lawsuit that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to expel President Barrack Obama from office because Berg claimed he’s not an American-born citizen.

These days he’s taking a mandatory break from litigating.

Berg lost his right to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court &tstr; according to documents released by the court Jan. 21.

That ruling comes just a few months after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suspended Berg from practicing law for two years.

Though he’s from Lafayette Hill, Berg had regularly visited the Lancaster County Courthouse.

His two-year suspension by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court disciplinary board stems from a suit he filed against the Lancaster City police on behalf of the wife of a Hell’s Angel.

But before that case, Berg affronted the local law enforcement community, including Lititz and WarwickTownship police, when he sued officers involved in the shooting death of Daniel Faust in 2005.

His federal suit two years later had named 19 defendants, including five police departments, four municipalities and the Lancaster County District Attorney.

Berg filed on behalf of Sandra Faust, claiming police used “excessive and unjustified deadly force” when her 23-year-old son was killed in the shoot-out.

The gun battle followed an earlier encounter that day with law enforcement, when police had gone to Faust’s home on Heron Drive in Lititz to serve a warrant. That’s when Faust shot and seriously wounded Miller.

The suit named Cpl. Joseph J. Christaldi of the Pennsylvania State Police and others who were part of the group searching for Faust in November 2005 when they came under fire from the suspect. The trooper returned fire, shot and killed Faust.

Berg eventually dropped the suit after the case had been dismissed against most of the defendants, with the exception of the Pennsylvania State Police, WarwickTownship and Lititz police departments, and those departments’ officers involved in the incident.

The suit was officially dropped only a few weeks before the remaining police departments and officers were scheduled to go to trial in Philadelphia.

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office determined that the use of deadly force by Christaldi was justified.

In the end, Christaldi received a commendation medal for his efforts during the gun battle, and officer Miller returned to the Lititz force after recovering from his injuries.

Perhaps Berg’s most infamous local case &tstr; the one that caused him to be disbarred &tstr; is the suit on behalf of Diana McCracken, wife of Hell’s Angel Terence McCracken, whose stabbing of a rival gang member at a Lancaster bar in 2004 brought police to McCracken’s home.

She hired Berg to file a federal suit against the Lancaster Police Department and individual officers for unlawfully searching her home and wrongfully imprisoning her while they waited for a warrant.

According to court records, Berg waited two years to file the lawsuit. He eventually filed on the last day before the court-mandated deadline, then failed to respond to the police department and the officers’ challenges which asked the court to dismiss McCracken’s claims.

The case was dismissed, but Berg never informed his client.

McCracken, who has a prior murder conviction, pleaded guilty to the stabbing at The Blue Star on West King Street.

Berg told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s disciplinary board that he knew nothing of McCracken’s past when he took the case.

In 2010, Berg appeared to undermine his client while defending himself on dereliction charges, stating that “…law enforcement handle arrests warrants and searches of premises differently depending on the background of the defendant…”

Last year he admitted to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s disciplinary board that he erred in the case.

Berg, who said he’s working on a book on President Obama based on his obamacrimes.com website, admitted being preoccupied with the president in an interview with the Allentown Morning Call in January.

“I screwed up, I admitted to it,” Berg told the paper. “I devoted so much time to it, I lost clients because I didn’t pay attention to them.”

 

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455

 

 

About lititzrecord

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *