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    Posted June 7, 2012 by
    Pocono Summit, PA 18346, Pennsylvania

    Planned Communities and the First Amendment. Which one rules? THE ARGUMENT IS IN THE HANDS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT


    Stillwater Lakes Community Activists President Michael Glassic announced that he has filed an Allowance for Appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court against Stillwater Lakes Civic Association, which oversees his community. Glassic claims the Association violated their corporate bylaws and his First Amendment rights, and the lower courts disregarded numerous disputed material facts in granting summary judgment.


    The ‘Activists’ is a watchdog group formed by Glassic to keep an eye on the Association’s Board and Management Company, and to provide news and commentary about the community.


    The Supreme Court case stems from a December 2008 lawsuit, filed by the Association against Glassic and David Nieves, another resident. The Association alleges that Glassic and Nieves do not have the right to record or possess copies of their meetings and have asked the court for a permanent injunction to force them to stop the “offending action.”


    Glassic alleges the lawsuit is a veiled attempt to quiet them, stop communication among residents, and to restrict their First Amendment right to Free Speech and Press.
    This case, if allowed to stand, is contrary to precedent already established1 and could affect an estimated three million Pennsylvanians who live in planned communities.


    The Courts are clear that if you buy in a private community, the association can enforce private restrictions without violating free speech rights under the First Amendment. Glassic says “these cases are about residents challenging a community’s covenants or bylaws. I’m simply trying to get this board to follow their bylaws.”


    Also at issue is that the trial court granted summary judgment even though numerous material facts are in dispute. Both Glassic and Judge Linda Wallach Miller, the trial court judge, acknowledge that facts and controversies exist as to whether or not the bylaws provide members the right to record meetings.


    Glassic also disputes whether a retaliatory rule can violate the authority granted by the overarching bylaws, and whether the Association violated Glassic’s rights under the bylaws by not following clearly established grievance procedures for dealing with violations.


    Legal action was initiated by the Association after Glassic, Nieves and several other residents started recording meetings after becoming frustrated by the lack of communication and misinformation from the Association’s board and management company. The Association alleged that video and audio recording of meetings disrupted business and chilled free speech so they hired the law firm of Young and Haros, LLC, to sue them in 2008. Glassic claims the Association should have followed the bylaws and issued a Cease and Desist letter, opening up the grievance process. Instead, the Association moved swiftly to a lawsuit. Glassic points out that he even stopped video recording meetings the day they passed the controversial anti-recording rule more than a month before the lawsuit was filed, and he received a Cease and Desist letter five days after the filing, seemingly to cover their legal missteps. Nieves, who was named and captioned on the suit along with his wife, was never served and continued to record meetings a full seven months after the complaint was filed.


    Glassic alleges the Association’s board has mismanaged funds, and actively concealed information from residents. He and his wife, a former board member, are both fighting another suit for a website Glassic started, that they believe to be another attempt to block freedom of speech disguised as a trademark infringement case in which there is no trademark.


    “I believe we are the victims of a breach of fiduciary duty, among other crimes,” said Glassic.

    “I believe the board and their lawyers are using our judicial system to bully and intimidate us into silence and take away our contractual and First Amendment Rights. Our judicial system is supposed to protect our rights, not take them away.


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