29-0 Petitioner's Brief Filed
September 21st, 2021
BRIEF OF PETITIONER IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
In the Court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order of June 17, 2021, the Court ruled that fact discovery was needed on whether the elders of Petitioner Ivy Hill Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses are “clergymen,” and even if they are, whether nevertheless they are subject to a statutory exception to privilege. The relevant discovery is now complete and the material facts are not in dispute. What those facts reveal is simple: the elders of Ivy Hill are entitled as a matter of law to the protections afforded by the clergymen privilege codified at 42 Pa.C.S. § 5943. This also means that in certain circumstances, the exemption to mandatory reporting under the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) found at 23 Pa.C.S. § 6311.1(b)(1) applies to these elders. This is true even if the exception in Section 5943 applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses, since that exception separately violates both the Federal and State Constitutions and must, therefore, be severed.
Accordingly, for the reasons set forth in the Motion for Summary Judgment, and those set forth below, the Court should grant summary judgment in favor of Ivy Hill, and against Respondent Department of Human Services (DHS), on all counts in the Petition for Review (PFR).
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