Tag Archives: Synagogues having services in August

Transcript of my preliminary hearing where the Court found enough evidence to try me in Commonwealth Court

The Chabad religious service is entirely in Hebrew and Aramaic where men and women are separated during prayer. In August, this was the only synagogue service available to me. This (with the exception of women being separated from men) is the service with which I am most comfortable. Under the rules of the sabbath codified in Arabic in the Twelfth Century by the great Rabbi Maimonedes, one is not permitted to work on the Sabbath. Today that is defined as not driving a car, exchanging money, turning a light switch on or off, etc.

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Raw unedited transcript of my preliminary hearing

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS CENTRE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA CRIMINAL DIVISION

COMMONWEALTH : NO. OTN X 198324-0

VS :

JOEL SOLKOFF :

TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS (Preliminary Hearing)

BEFORE: Thomas Jordan, MDJ

DATE: August 15, 2018

PLACE: Centre County Courthouse Courtroom No. 3 102 South Allegheny Street Bellefonte, PA 16823

APPEARANCES:

FOR THE COMMONWEALTH: Amanda Chaplin, Esquire Assistant District Attorney

FOR THE DEFENDANT: Patrick  Klena, Esquire Assistant Public Defender

NOTES BY: Patricia A. Grey, RPR Official Court Reporter Room 208, Centre County Courthouse 102 South Allegheny Street Bellefonte, PA 16823 814-355-6734 OR FAX 814-548-1158

 

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INDEX TO THE WITNESSES

DIRECT CROSS REDIRECT RECROSS

COMMONWEALTH:

Gregory Brauser

Andrew Sim

DEFENDANT:

Joel Solkoff

INDEX TO THE EXHIBITS

ADMITTED

COMMONWEALTH:

(None)

DEFENDANT:

(None)

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P R O C E E D I N G S

THE COURT: This is the Commonwealth

versus Joel Ezra Solkoff. Mr. Solkoff’s case is

identified by OTN No. X 198324-0.

Does the defense waive the reading of

this complaint? MR. KLENA: Yes, we do.

THE COURT: Is the Commonwealth ready to

proceed?

  1. CHAPLIN: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: All right. Then you may go

ahead and call your first witness.

  1. CHAPLIN: Lieutenant Brauser.

Whereupon,

GREGORY BRAUSER

was called as a witness and having been duly sworn, was

examined and testified as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Lieutenant, could you please state your

name and then spell your last name for the record?

  1. Yep. It’s Gregory Brauser,

B-r-a-u-s-e-r. I’m a lieutenant with the State College

Police Department.

  1. And were you — what are your duties as a

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lieutenant at the State College Police Department?

  1. I’m currently in charge of the community

relations division of our department.

  1. Were you working back around August the

9th of 2018?

  1. Yes, I was.
  2. Are you familiar with the defendant in

this matter, Joel Solkoff?

  1. Yes, I am.
  2. Do you see him in the courtroom here

today? A. He’s seated next to his defense attorney.

THE COURT: I’ll note that he identified

the gentleman to Mr. Klena’s right.

  1. CHAPLIN: Thank you, Your Honor.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. And can you describe for the Court what

your involvement with Mr. Solkoff has been leading up to

the events that occurred on August 11th of 2018?

  1. Yeah. I was made aware by our chief of

police that on the 6th, which was the Monday, that

Mr. Solkoff was at the borough council meeting that

night and was complaining about the condition of the

downtown sidewalks and the inability that he was having

with his electronic scooter to get around downtown and

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that the borough was not making proper accommodations

for him to be able to get through the downtown. He at

that point had requested the chief arrest him during his

arguments in council. The chief declined to do so

stating that Mr. Solkoff was just exercising his rights

of free speech. Mr. Solkoff was very insistent on being

arrested and informed the chief that he was going

downstairs to get arrested.

He subsequently, Mr. Solkoff, rode his

device out into the middle of Beaver Avenue at the

intersection of Allen Street and blocked that

intersection for vehicular traffic. Our department

responded to that report from civilians that the roadway

was blocked by Mr. Solkoff. Officers on scene spent

approximately 15 to 30 minutes trying to convince

Mr. Solkoff to leave and securing an ambulance for him

to be removed from the roadway.

As a result of that, we later in the

week — I believe it was Thursday — were contacted by a

defense attorney representing Mr. Solkoff who wanted to

inform us of Mr. Solkoff’s wishes that we be aware that

on Saturday, the 11th, he was planning to repeat the

blocking of Beaver Avenue in protest for better access

for persons with disabilities on downtown sidewalks.

As a result of that notification, I was

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assigned to reach out to Mr. Solkoff and his attorney.

I did so and on Thursday of that week, I spent

approximately an hour with Mr. Solkoff going over his

concerns about the sidewalks down there. I informed him

that in the time between the notification that his

attorney provided us and speaking to him that I had

arranged for free public transportation for him to reach

specifically religious services that he was going to get

  1. I had reached out to CATA bus services, the Centre

County transportation services, and his synagogue to

arrange those — free transportation for him to get to

and from services.

I also provided him with an alternative

route if he wished to still take his own means there.

Instead of coming out of his building and heading east

on Beaver Avenue, he could turn west to go half a block

and basically continue the exact same route that he

would have taken and avoided all the construction. He

advised me that that was not his wish; that he was at

this point protesting and demanding to speak to the

secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of

Pennsylvania in order to bring light to his cause and

insist on State Route 26, Beaver Avenue, be converted to

a pedestrian walkway either in whole or at least the

right travel lane being shut down and converted to a

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pedestrian walkway.

Like I said, I spent pretty close to an

hour with him and also a little bit of time with him and

his attorney during that time trying to convince him to

either protest peacefully on the sidewalk, even

mentioned I think going to Bellefonte where their office

was and protesting there, or using our alternate means

of transportation. And Mr. Solkoff was very polite

stating that those were not options that he wanted, just

being that he was very set on doing his protest in the

roadway and blocking traffic and very insistent that he

was to be arrested.

During the police’s first encounter with

him on the Monday prior, he was actually not arrested.

He was taken to the Mount Nittany Medical Center for an

evaluation to see if it was something that he was a

danger to himself or others for. He was very upset that

that was the process that was taken on Monday and

adamant that he wanted to be arrested and put in jail.

  1. Okay. So, alternative means to reach his

destinations were provided?

  1. Correct.
  2. And alternative venues to protest were

provided?

  1. Yes.

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  1. But he refused those?
  2. Yes, he was very adamant that he didn’t

want that. He wanted to be arrested and put in jail.

  1. Did he ever obtain a permit from State

College Borough to protest in the street or to close

down the street?

  1. He did not obtain a permit from anybody,

borough or PennDOT, to block the roadway.

  1. Is that the extent of your involvement in

this case?

  1. No. In preparation for his planned

protest, I actually reached out to the jail and made

them aware that this was a potential person coming in

with disabilities so that they would be prepared for

that. I contacted the District Attorney’s Office and

spoke to the district attorney about appropriate charges

for the case and actually pre-typed a criminal complaint

with the charge on there to provide to the day shift on

Saturday to expedite the removing him from the roadway

so that it was less of a safety hazard for himself and

the general public.

That information that I typed up was

provided to the day shift supervisor and officers

working for that Saturday where the protest was planned,

and we had arranged with Centre LifeLink EMS to

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transport for us so that it was a more comfortable

transport for him and his electronic device.

  1. You say electronic device. Can you

describe it for the record?

  1. He has a motorized scooter that he uses

to get around town. That’s seated right next to him.

  1. Were you involved at all on October (sic)

11th or is your involvement everything before?

THE COURT: What day? It’s August.

  1. CHAPLIN: August.

THE COURT: I thought she said October.

I’m paying attention actually. August.

  1. CHAPLIN: I think I did say October.

THE COURT: All right.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. August?
  2. After the incident on August 11th, I

actually secured the video from the patrol cars and

brought those into evidence and also took still shoots

from the downtown cameras that showed the defendant in

the middle of the roadway.

  1. So there was video and still shots?
  2. Yes. I also had some follow-up with the

office of the aging. He has a caseworker with them to

try and see what services we may be missing to provide

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or that they’re able to fill in the gap. That was one

other resource we reached out to.

  1. CHAPLIN: I don’t believe I have any

further questions for this witness.

THE COURT: Mr. Klena, would you like to

ask the lieutenant any questions?

  1. KLENA: Briefly.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. Lieutenant Brauser, in terms of his

charges, is he charged under Title 18 the Crimes Code

obstructing highways and other public passages, correct?

  1. Correct.
  2. Because he persisted on or this wasn’t

the first time, that’s what makes that offense a

misdemeanor of the third degree, correct?

  1. I believe it’s because of the order from

the police at the day of. It doesn’t have to be a prior

incident. Just consistent or continued after being

ordered by police to leave the roadway while being

provided an alternate venue.

  1. Okay.
  2. So, there’s two sections. There’s a

misdemeanor and a summary section.

  1. Now, did Mr. Solkoff express that the

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alternative route was not satisfactory or essentially

nonexistent? Did you have that conversation with him?

  1. It wasn’t satisfactory to him. It was

completely existent.

  1. And you would agree that the condition of

downtown State College in terms of the sidewalk does

prevent him from traveling his route to his synagogue,

correct?

  1. No, it does not prevent him from getting

to that location. It prevents him from getting on

Beaver Avenue to that location, but there’s alternate

routes that he can take.

  1. Did he express to you that the sidewalk

of the alternate route is dangerous?

  1. He did, and I traveled that route and

verified that it is not. The route going down Beaver

Avenue to Allen Street, Allen Street down to Waring

Avenue and Waring Avenue across, every one of the

sidewalks has been replaced at the corners by the

borough to be ADH compliant with handicap ramps and

anti-skid plates on each one of those sidewalk corners.

  1. Lieutenant Brauser, when he went out into

the roadway the — I guess the second incident — and

that was on the 11th; is that correct?

  1. Correct.

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  1. The phone call received from his

attorney, that would be Matt McClenahen, that was on

August 9th that both these things, correct?

  1. Thursday, correct.
  2. He went out onto Beaver Avenue; is that

correct?

  1. Correct.
  2. What location on Beaver Avenue? What

would have been one of the side streets?

  1. On the first one or the second one?
  2. The second one?
  3. It would have been mid-block in the 100

block directly across from Uncle Eli’s.

  1. Okay.
  2. He basically came right out right of

Addison Court and right out into the roadway from their

driveway.

  1. At that time did you receive any

complaints from the public that Mr. Solkoff was making

Beaver Avenue impassable?

  1. I wasn’t working that day. He actually

pulled out directly in front of an unmarked police car

which was able to stop at that point and turned his

lights on to alert traffic that he was in the middle of

the roadway.

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  1. Did he have any signs with him or

anything — to your knowledge, did he have signs with

him?

  1. The video didn’t show any signs.
  2. Mr. Solkoff is 70 years old?
  3. Correct.
  4. The issue with the sidewalks being

currently impassable, that’s not a permanent condition

or you don’t foresee that being a permanent condition,

do you?

  1. No, it’s a temporary construction issue.

The south side of Beaver Avenue in the 200/300 block is

under construction due to a building being rebuilt. The

north side is a delay. They initially started to

replace all of the street lights in the downtown area.

The borough obtained permits from PennDOT to rip those

up and after they took out the old ones, an inspector

came in I believe and determined that the new ones —

there was an issue with something they were doing which

delayed the process of getting the new ones immediately

installed. So, it’s on delay that’s causing the

problems.

  1. Okay.
  2. So, it’s temporary construction on both

sides.

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  1. But for now they are impassable to

someone in Mr. Solkoff’s condition in terms of requiring

either a wheelchair or a motorized —

  1. I don’t know that they’re impassable.

They have taken up some of the blocks where there was

solid cement and replaced it with gravel.

  1. Okay. Well, you would agree that it

would be difficult —

  1. Inconvenient for sure, yes.
  2. — to navigate on gravel on a wheelchair?
  3. Correct. But there’s always a block

either direction that’s not being torn up at this point.

  1. Did Mr. Solkoff show you a video that he

had made?

  1. He did not. He had mentioned a video

that he had made during Arts Fest that he stated he

couldn’t get to some venues at Arts Fest. I had pointed

out that the construction was actually the opposite

direction from his house from where the Arts Festival

was. So, I was confused by how he couldn’t get to the

Arts Fest.

  1. You would agree that Mr. Solkoff, like

every American, has a right to express grievances

against their government, local, state, or national,

correct?

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  1. Absolutely.
  2. You believe that was ultimately what

Mr. Solkoff is doing here by his going out onto the

roadway? He had a grievance and this is the way he was

going to bring attention to it; is that your

understanding?

  1. That was what he stated his purpose was.
  2. You have no reason to believe other than

that?A. No.

  1. Did you have a meeting with the fire

chief with Mr. Solkoff?

  1. Not over this incident.
  2. KLENA: I don’t have any further

questions of Lieutenant Brauser.

THE COURT: Anything on redirect?

  1. CHAPLIN: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Thank you for your testimony.

THE DEFENDANT: May I ask some questions?

  1. KLENA: No, you can’t.

THE COURT: Well, you can’t now. I

excused him so. THE DEFENDANT: Well, that’s

unreasonable. The lieutenant made several errors of

fact.

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  1. KLENA: That will be up to the jury

to determine whether or not his errors are fact.

THE COURT: You also have a right to

testify, too.

THE DEFENDANT: Can I testify now?

THE COURT: Well, that’s up to your

attorney.

  1. KLENA: I would advise against it,

but if that’s what you wish to do, that’s your choice.

THE DEFENDANT: I want to testify.

THE COURT: Well then, we’ll wait until

it’s your turn, okay?

THE DEFENDANT: Of course.

THE COURT: There’s a certain protocol.

THE DEFENDANT: I’ll be glad to follow.

THE COURT: We’re going to allow the

Commonwealth to present additional evidence. It appears

they have additional evidence.

THE DEFENDANT: That’s fine.

THE COURT: We’ll let them present their

case.

THE DEFENDANT: That’s fine.

THE COURT: And let you, if you choose,

sir.

THE DEFENDANT: Okay. Thank you.

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THE COURT: Officer.

Whereupon,

ANDREW SIM

was called as a witness and having been duly sworn, was

examined and testified as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Officer, could you please state your name

and then spell your last name for the record?

  1. Andrew Sim, last name is S-i-m.
  2. Where are you employed?
  3. State College Borough Police.
  4. In what capacity?
  5. Patrol officer.
  6. What are your duties as a patrol officer?
  7. Calls for service, investigations,

traffic patrol.

  1. Were you working back on August 11th of

2018? A. I was.

  1. And on that date did you have occasion to

come into contact with the defendant in this matter,

Joel Solkoff?

  1. I did come in contact with him.
  2. Do you see him in the courtroom here

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today? A. I do. He’s sitting with defense counsel.

THE COURT: I’ll note he identified

Mr. Solkoff.

  1. CHAPLIN: Thank you.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Can you describe for the Court how it is

that you came into contact with Mr. Solkoff?

  1. I was actually told ahead of time — this

is out of the ordinary way things work. — that

Mr. Solkoff had already or his attorney had made our

department aware that he was going to block Beaver

Avenue as I understood he had done earlier in the week.

And we were given a time of 9:30. At 9:15 I drove to

that location going up Calder and then the alley that is

perpendicular to Beaver Avenue facing Addison Court

where I knew his residence was. I was made aware that

this would happen in the area of Unde Eli’s, which is on

that half block.As I pulled up there, I saw Mr. Solkoff

was already in the roadway and an unmarked car of ours

which was driven by Captain Fishel blocked the right

lane which Mr. Solkoff was in the middle of. I went

ahead and parked on the alley and walked across to make

contact with Mr. Solkoff.

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  1. You say he was in the middle of the right

lane? A. Middle of the right lane, correct. Right

eastbound lane. That’s a one-way eastbound highway.

  1. Okay. Can you describe for the Court

East Beaver Avenue? Is it a public roadway or highway?

  1. It’s a public roadway. As I said, it’s

one-way eastbound. It’s State Route 26 that goes

through the heart of the Borough of State College. It’s

the business district.

  1. And is that an area that sees daily

traffic?

  1. A lot of vehicular traffic on that being

the main thoroughfare. There are also a lot of

pedestrians that cross that roadway.

  1. And when you arrived there, was he, in

fact, blocking the roadway?

  1. The right lane, correct.
  2. So, were vehicles able to use the right

lane of East Beaver Avenue?

  1. Yes, vehicles could use the left lane.
  2. Were they able to use the right lane?
  3. I am sorry. No, they could not use the

right lane. In fact, after he had it blocked, like I

said, for his safety, a patrol car had pulled up there

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to also block that lane while we dealt with him.

  1. Is that so he wouldn’t get hit by —
  2. For his safety and officers that were

going over there since we knew this was happening in

advance.

  1. Were there cars on the road while this

was going on?

  1. Yes.
  2. I guess, what did you do once you got

there and saw this?

  1. I spoke to Mr. Solkoff. I told him that

I understood that he had a protest and that he had the

right to protest but that he could not block, obstruct

the roadway; that he would have to move off the roadway.

He told me — and he did give me a name. I don’t

remember or know who the person is but he gave me the

name of the secretary of transportation I believe of the

State of Pennsylvania and said that he was blocking the

lane and he would like to speak to the secretary of

transportation of Pennsylvania. This is a female name.

I do not know what it was.

THE DEFENDANT: Leslie S. Richards.

THE WITNESS: Okay. I told him I was

unable to do that for him and asked him again to get off

the roadway, and he said that he would like to be

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arrested.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Do you know how many times he was asked

to leave the roadway?

  1. I said it specifically to him twice. The

one response was to speak to the secretary of

transportation. The second one was to be arrested. And

following that Lieutenant Smail walked out and greeted

Mr. Solkoff. I believe they shook hands and

introduced — he introduced himself to him. He asked

him to leave the roadway and then read a prepared

statement to Mr. Solkoff which indicated that the

borough and police felt that they had taken measures to

accommodate him and he needed to leave the roadway or

would be arrested. I was there. I didn’t hear

everything read, but I know that he read from the

statement.

  1. So, would you consider Mr. Solkoff being

in the roadway a hazard?

  1. It is. At the time the right lane was no

longer a hazard because we had it blocked off for his

safety and the safety of officers dealing with this

incident. He is in a motorized scooter which at any

time he could have pulled into the only lane that was

available and so, yes, it could have been a hazard for

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him.

  1. Would you consider it a hazard for

oncoming traffic for a person to be sitting in the

roadway?

  1. Anybody. Even for officers that were

dealing with it.

  1. Did all of this occur in Centre County?
  2. It did.
  3. I guess, ultimately did he refuse to

leave the roadway?

  1. He did. We even, Officer McDannel at one

point — when we had initially determined to use the

LifeLink ambulance, we were made aware that they brought

a van specific for a mobility device. And

Officer McDannel offered for him to go over to the

Addison Court parking lot to pull into that and

Mr. Solkoff did not stating he wasn’t leaving the

roadway. He did comply once they pulled the van onto

the roadway. He went unassisted posing no problems into

that vehicle once he was told he was under arrest.

  1. Did he have alternate areas where he

could have made this protest?

  1. Right off the roadway where he was where

I believe is his residence, there’s sidewalk area there

where he could have, without even blocking the sidewalk,

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made any speech that he wanted to give. I don’t know

what other areas where provided to him but, yes, he

could have made a speech nearby.

  1. CHAPLIN: No further questions at

this time.

THE COURT: Mr. Klena, would you like to

ask the officer any questions, sir?

  1. KLENA: Briefly.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. Just to clarify for the record, Beaver

Avenue in downtown State College is a two-lane one-way

roadway, correct?

  1. Yes, sir.
  2. And the speed limit in downtown State

College is what; 25 miles per hour?

  1. Yes.
  2. He never went into the left lane. He

stayed solely within the right lane during this protest?

  1. Yes, Your Honor — I’m sorry. Yes,

counsel.

THE COURT: You just got promoted.

  1. KLENA: Maybe some day. Who knows.

THE COURT: Just not yet.

THE WITNESS: Can you strike that?

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THE COURT: No, leave that in there.

Patrick wants that in the record.

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. He was — and in your interactions with

Mr. Solkoff, he was pleasant, polite but insistent upon

his grievance about the sidewalks and wanting that

situation corrected?

  1. The grievance per se wasn’t so much given

to me as it had been done prior to other officers. The

demand to me was that he wanted the right lane open or a

lane of Beaver Avenue open and he wanted to speak to the

secretary of transportation.

  1. His goal was to have at least one of the

lanes made into a pedestrian — for solely pedestrian

traffic?

  1. That is my understanding, yes.
  2. There was a potential for danger had the

police been unaware of this occurring beforehand; would

you agree with that statement?

  1. There could be.
  2. But with kind of the planned protest

through Attorney McClenahen contacting, saying this is

the date and time that he was going to be entering onto

the roadway, State College Police were able to take

preventative measures to stop any incident from

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happening either to motorists or Mr. Solkoff; would you

agree with that?

  1. We tried to make it as safe as we could.
  2. The street was closed off at the point

where he was ultimately then taken into custody on the

11th; is that right?

  1. Just the right lane.
  2. Just the right lane. The left lane was

still — there was still vehicular traffic in the left

lane? A. Vehicles were permitted to continue in

the left lane.

  1. No one was — at that point you didn’t

take the keys out of his motorized scooter or anything

like that, correct?

  1. I did not. I will say I have a lack of

familiarity with them but I did not.

  1. In your opinion he could have backed it

up or drove it forward right into the left lane of

traffic?

  1. Yeah. He was facing that open lane at

the time when we were dealing with him. He was

broadside to the lane he was in.

  1. KLENA: I don’t have any other

questions.

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THE COURT: Any redirect?

  1. CHAPLIN: One question very briefly.

REDIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Would his position in the road have

hindered public transportation or emergency vehicles in

the event of an emergency?

  1. Yes.

THE COURT: Follow up?

  1. KLENA: No questions.

THE COURT: Thank you, Mr. Klena.

You may stand down, officer.

Does the Commonwealth have any other

evidence?

  1. CHAPLIN: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Commonwealth’s closed their

case. Does the defense have anything?

THE DEFENDANT: I want to testify.

  1. KLENA: Mr. Solkoff wants to testify.

THE COURT: I’m going to let you testify

from there, sir. I’m not going to make you take the

stand.

THE DEFENDANT: Okay.

THE COURT: I do have administer the oath

to you though. And I’m going to ask Mr. Klena if he

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would pull that microphone closer.

Whereupon,

JOEL SOLKOFF

was called as a witness and having been duly sworn, was

examined and testified as follows:

THE COURT: Are you going to direct him,

Mr. Klena?

  1. KLENA: Yes.

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. Mr. Solkoff, you have expressed your

desire to testify. You understand what you are charged

with, correct?

  1. Yes, I do.
  2. Why do you believe that you shouldn’t be

charged with this offense?

  1. I believe that neither the Commonwealth

nor the lieutenant are correct in there having been

provided to me any alternatives. CATA was not an

alternative. I was planning on praying, (inaudible) and

it’s a term that comes instantly to mind as Hubad, which

is an orthodox Jewish service. The reform service which

Lieutenant Brauser made contact with my rabbi did not

have a service at 10:00 o’clock in the morning on that

Saturday morning. The only service that was available

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was at Hubad which is an orthodox congregation which

follows the 12th century ritual established by

Maimonides in Cairo in Egyptian, in Arabic. And in

which the entire service is in Hebrew and in which men

and women are segregated and where no automobile traffic

is permitted. Going on CATA and going off CATA would

have been an offense to my synagogue.

And as to the notion that Allen Street is

passable, I have many videos of impassable streets and

the problem with Allen Street was that before the cross

street there where there is, in fact, a tree the

sidewalk was all cut up.

As for other side streets, Pugh, for

example, I have gone on the crosswalks. The street cuts

is what they’re referred to as. On Pugh Street and on

one occasion my scooter went one way and I landed on the

floor. It is true that in many cross areas that is to

say, for example, at the corner of Allen and Beaver, the

cross streets — the street cuts there are in absolutely

perfect condition and they have added to them because —

I mean, I’m a disability advocate, voice of America

citizen disability advocate. I have been a disability

advocate for the 24 years I have been a paraplegic.

Cross street — street cuts these days

also have little rubber things on the bottom if you’ve

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noticed them and, therefore, the blind or the visually

impaired so that if, for example, you’re there with a

white cane you don’t go falling down because suddenly

there’s a street cut. But in the interim in the middle,

for example, in the middle of Pugh when you’re going

down Pugh in the direction of Guacamole and Days Inn,

those street cuts are in a situation of considerable

disrepair.

The week before I met at the — at the

borough council. I met with Tom Fontaine who is in

charge of the borough council and is a wonderful person

and we discussed the situation. Now the reason that I

pulled Leslie S. Richard’s name out of the hat is that

she’s the secretary of transportation and she is in

charge of PennDOT and PennDOT owns Beaver Avenue and the

sidewalks on both sides of Beaver Avenue. And they are

in tragedy when it comes to simple issues such as making

Arts Fest available and such as making it possible for

me to go to synagogue.

What I did on the Monday at the meeting

of the borough council was I showed the borough council

the route I took to synagogue a couple years ago when I

went to Rosh Hashanah service and I showed the borough

council the way it is now. And it is not possible to

get from here to either Hubad or to my shul on Hamilton

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Brit Shalom in any way that is safe.

And it is my — and to further add insult

to injury, I attempted to celebrate my 70th birthday.

70th birthdays are regarded biblically as matters of

considerable import especially since based on the notion

of threescore and ten in the Solomon’s. I attempted to

celebrate it with my daughters, each of whom are

vegetarians and a new restaurant opened up on Beaver

Avenue called Cafe Vere which is not wheelchair

accessible but complied technically with the — with the

rules in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which requires

that 20 percent of the money be spent on

disability-friendly repairs. So as a consequence the

bathroom in Cafe Verve is wheelchair accessible but the

entrance is not. One reason the entrance is not

accessible is because —

THE COURT: I’m going to stop you here.

We’re way off point about the restaurant. Let’s stay

focused on the street.

I have a question for you. Where is

Hubad?

THE WITNESS: Hubad is on Weaver.

THE COURT: Weaver?

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Waring.

THE WITNESS: Waring. It’s a small —

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LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Bottom of highlands.

THE COURT: Where at?

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Down by McCormick.

THE COURT: Okay.

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Between University

Drive and Garner Street.

THE COURT: Okay. I just wanted a

visual.

THE DEFENDANT: I was there a year ago.

I celebrated Shabbat there with my friend, Elliott

Weinstein.

THE COURT: I appreciate that. All

right. So I don’t need to hear any more about the

restaurant. That’s another issue. That’s an issue that

you can take up with — not with this Court, with

another entity. THE DEFENDANT: Okay. All right.

THE COURT: Are you satisfied that you

got to say what you wanted to say about the traffic

situation?

THE DEFENDANT: Well, two things I wanted

to say.

THE COURT: Let’s hear them. Go ahead,

sir.

THE DEFENDANT: Lieutenant Brauser and I

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didn’t just meet on this issue. Which — and this issue

may make it sound like I’m somewhat rattled in terms of

driving my scooter out into the highway and so on.

Lieutenant Brauser and I met at the fire department with

Steve Bair and we were there to protect — to institute

procedures to protect the 89 people in Addison Court.

THE COURT: Okay.

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. When did that occur prior to this?
  2. Three months ago? Two months ago?
  3. It’s your recollection.

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Last fall I think.

THE WITNESS: Last fall. And then —

THE COURT: This was some time ago?

THE DEFENDANT: But earlier this year,

two months ago, the mayor and the police chief and

Lieutenant Brauser and I were all in the social hall at

Addison Court handing out earplugs.

THE COURT: Okay. All right.

THE DEFENDANT: So, you know, it’s —

this is — I mean, I understand that you don’t want to

talk about anything other than the street and I

appreciate that. But PennDOT is responsible for major

injury to the elderly and disability community that is

on Beaver Avenue and this particular issue, namely

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depriving me of the right to go to synagogue finally got

my goat as it were. And there was certainly, you know,

the officer was correct in everything he said. But, you

know, this was a planned arrest. There was no danger at

all to me or anybody on the highway when I went out into

the middle of the road with two police cars here, an

unmarked police car there which I knew was an unmarked

police car, and several officers there, and an ambulance

over there.

I mean, you know, I’m not — I am not

certifiable and proof that I’m not certifiable is that

the police chief and an officer sent me to the hospital

to try to certify me and they wouldn’t do it so.

THE COURT: Point taken.

THE WITNESS: I’m done, unless you have

questions.

THE COURT: Dare I ask if you want to

cross-examine?

  1. CHAPLIN: Very briefly.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Just for the record, it was your intent

to block the roadway that day, correct?

  1. Oh, yes.
  2. You did block the roadway on the right

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lane? A. Well, no, my van. You know, there was a

right side and there was a left side. The unmarked

police car was on the right side. I knew it was an

unmarked police car. I wanted to block the roadway but

I didn’t.

  1. They were blocking the roadway because

you pulled into the roadway?

  1. Because I told them I was going to get

arrested and I didn’t want to get killed because I have

a granddaughter who’s about to be born any day now.

  1. It was your intent to be arrested that

day?

  1. Yes.
  2. You didn’t get a permit to protest in the

road? A. Well, no, I had gotten permission to

protest on Valentine’s Day.

  1. But not on August 11th?
  2. No, I didn’t.

THE COURT: Okay.

THE WITNESS: I did not.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. You can protest in an alternative manner

out of the road?

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  1. Assuming that it didn’t do any good.

Martin Luther King protested in Birmingham, Alabama.

  1. Okay. We’re not here about —

THE COURT: We’re way off course here.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. You did repeatedly tell the police that

the only alternative was to be arrested and that was —

  1. The only alternative other than to get

Leslie J. Reynolds there was to get arrested.

  1. CHAPLIN: I have nothing further.

THE COURT: Okay.

Mr. Klena, do you have a closing

argument, sir?

  1. KLENA: To the extent that the left

lane was still open on Beaver Avenue, I would argue it

didn’t meet the definition of obstruct in terms that it

made it impassable.

THE COURT: All right.

Ms. Chaplin, do you have a closing

argument?

  1. CHAPLIN: Well, Your Honor, I think

that for today’s purposes of a prima facie case the

Commonwealth has met its burden on the misdemeanor

charge. The statute says a person, who having no legal

privilege to do so, intentionally or recklessly

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obstructs any highway whether alone or with others and

that if he persists after warning by law officer, it is

a misdemeanor of the third degree. I think all those

elements have been established. I don’t think it’s any

questions that the right lane did have to be closed down

because of his protest. I would suggest that does meet

the definition of obstruct because everyone then had to

be moved into the left lane. It did shut down an entire

lane of traffic. THE COURT: Safety is really not even an

element here. It’s whether or not he blocked traffic,

he obstructed traffic, and whether he was officially

told not to do that, and he was. The elements of the

offense are met. Therefore — it’s not my authority

today, Mr. Solkoff, to determine guilt or innocence.

It’s a preliminary hearing, sir. I simply need to

decide whether an offense was committed and whether you

were the person who could have committed the offense.

That’s the burden of proof.

So for today’s purposes, the Commonwealth

has met its burden. I’m binding you over to the Centre

County Court on the obstructing highway and other public

passage charge. Your case is bound over to the Common

Pleas Court. All right.

  1. CHAPLIN: Your Honor, if I may ask a

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question about bail. I know you had changed it from —

THE COURT: Bail is ROR right now. He

refused to sign the bail bond but he is released on his

recognizance and if he’ll sign the bail bond today, I’ll

have him sign it. If he doesn’t want to, I’m not going

to force him — I can’t force him to sign it. But bail

— I was involved in this issue yesterday and bail has

been changed by Judge Lachman who was the issuing

authority who granted the complaint to ROR.

  1. CHAPLIN: Okay. I guess, I was just

wondering is the condition that Judge Lachman had put in

the original bail paper to not go back into the roadway,

is that still — THE COURT: That is not a bail condition.

There are no non-monetary conditions on an ROR bail

bond.

  1. KLENA: That would be a new offense,

Ms. Chaplin.

THE COURT: That’s right.

  1. KLENA: If that occurs, then I

imagine the police will respond accordingly.

THE COURT: We cannot — we cannot issue

a non-monetary bail condition on ROR bond.

  1. CHAPLIN: Thank you for the clarity,

Judge.

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THE COURT: My pleasure.

We’re adjourned.

E N D O F P R O C E E D I N G S

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C E R T I F I C A T E

I hereby certify that the proceedings and

evidence are contained fully and accurately in the notes

taken by me upon the hearing of the within matter and

that this copy is a correct transcript of the same.

Date Patricia A. Grey, RPR Official Reporter

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C E R T I F I C A T E

I hereby certify that a copy of this

transcript was made available to counsel of record for

the parties, advising they had until

in which to file any

objections or exceptions to the same. That time period

having elapsed without recording of objections or

exceptions, the transcript is therefore lodged with the

Court for further action.

Date Patricia A. Grey, RPR Official Reporter

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ACCEPTANCE BY COURT

Upon counsel’s opportunity to review and

to offer objections to the record, the foregoing record

of proceedings is hereby accepted and directed to be

filed.

Date Pamela A. Ruest President Judge