Honor comes from Cumberland County community

The law firm of Abom & Kutulakis has once again been named a Cumberland County “Best.”

Firm owner and co-founder John A. “Jay” Abom acknowledged the community support that led to being named the 2023 Best Specialty Law Firm in the annual contest hosted by The Sentinel newspaper.

2023 Best of Cumberland

Attorney Abom said he is grateful that efforts to provide Cumberland County with legal services in the areas of criminal defense, investigations, family law, children and youth matters, and estate administration have been confirmed with the award.

The ‘specialty’ category was added in 2022 making Abom & Kutulakis only the second recipient of the accolade. The 2023 winner list also cited both the firm and Attorney Abom as “Favorites” for 2023.

Attorney John A. "Jay" Abom
John A. “Jay” Abom, Esq.


Presidential Pardon – Marijuana Cases

Some federally-charged marijuana convictions have received clemency under President Joe Biden’s pardon, announced on Oct. 6, 2022.

The Presidential Pardon applies to more than 6,500 federal convictions on simple marijuana possession. Officials said no one is currently serving a federal prison term for simple marijuana possession charges alone.

The pardon does not affect state-prosecuted convictions for simple possession or federal trafficking offenses.

Convictions for Simple Possession of marijuana have been pardoned

The United States Justice Department will supervise the issuance of certificates to those eligible for a pardon. The document, which will be available upon completing an application and receiving Justice Department approval, will state they have been officially pardoned for their crime. The Department will post the application form on its Office of the Pardon Attorney website as soon as it is available.

Under federal law, simple possession – meaning there is no intent to distribute the drug – remains punishable by up to a year in prison with a fine up to $1,000.

For more information, the Justice Department addresses questions about the pardon in this FAQ.


Cumberland County’s Best… Again!

Abom & Kutulakis has been named Cumberland County’s Best Law Firm in 2022, and firm co-founder John A. “Jay” Abom has been named Best Lawyer. The accolades come following voting by the public in the annual Best of Cumberland County contest. It is the firm’s fourth consecutive appearance on the Best Of list compiled by The Sentinel newspaper.

We are grateful for the acknowledgment of our efforts to provide Cumberland County with legal services in the areas of Criminal Defense, Investigations, Family Law, Children & Youth, and Estate Administration. The skilled attorneys and experienced support staff at Abom & Kutulakis are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for our clients.

Best Lawyer winner Attorney Abom is a skilled litigator defending those charged with crimes in state and federal court and is an advisor to clients in matters of wills and estate administration. He is a death penalty-certified attorney who has succeeded in keeping clients off death row.

Attorney John A. "Jay" Abom
John A. “Jay” Abom, Esq.

A former Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney, he prosecuted serious felonies, conducted grand jury investigations, assisted law enforcement with crime scenes, supervised the ARD program, and worked closely with lay and expert witnesses.

He was recognized as the 2020 Cumberland County Bar Association’s Distinguished Member Award. He has been designated a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer yearly since 2011 and is a National Board of Trial Advocacy-Certified Criminal Trial Advocate. Jay also serves as a Hearing Officer for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Jay is a graduate of Brown University and The Dickinson School of Law. He lives in Carlisle and is the solicitor for the Downtown Carlisle Association, a member of Carlisle’s Historical and Architectural Review Board, a member of the Cumberland County Historical Society, a coach for the Cumberland Valley Rugby Club and former longtime volunteer with Cumberland Valley School District’s Eagle Foundation.

Welcome Summer ’22 Law Clerk

Vishal Bajpai, a Penn State Dickinson Law School third-year student, has joined the Abom & Kutulakis team for the summer. He assists attorneys with legal research and writing.

Vishal Bajpai is a third year student at Penn State Dickinson Law.

Vishal is a Gettysburg College graduate with a degree in economics. He was born in India, grew up in California, and moved to Carlisle from Harrisburg, where he kept busy running for City Council and earning a paralegal certificate from Harrisburg Area Community College.


Longtime Legal Pro Joins Firm

Attorney Todd “T.R.” Williams, Jr.

Abom & Kutulakis welcomes Attorney Todd R. Williams, Jr., to the firm. “T.R.” brings close to 30 years’ experience in defending, prosecuting and adjudicating criminal and civil cases in the region.

He practices criminal defense including traffic citations and protection from abuse petitions and violations, family law cases, and wills and estate administration.

T.R. is a former Chief Deputy District Attorney with Franklin County where he spent 13 years prosecuting criminal cases involving charges ranging from DUI to rape and sexual assault to homicides, as well as supervising the Franklin County Drug Task Force. Previously, he served as an assistant Franklin County public defender.

The third-generation attorney is also a former Franklin County Magisterial District Judge, a position he held for more than 13 years while presiding over criminal preliminary arraignments, preliminary hearings, summary criminal and traffic trials, civil trials, landlord tenant cases and local ordinance violation cases.

T.R. is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and The Dickinson School of Law.

Craig E. Kauzlarich is CJA Panel pick

Senior Associate Attorney Craig E. Kauzlarich has been reappointed to the United States Criminal Justice Act Panel through which he represents federal criminal defendants before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorney Kauzlarich has been appointed to the United States Criminal Justice Act Panel

He is one of nine Harrisburg area attorneys to be appointed to a three-year term on the Panel. Among other qualifications, panel attorneys must be up-to-date on federal defense law developments, versed in electronic discovery methods, and meet ongoing training requirements under the Criminal Justice Act enacted in 1964.

Panel appointments are for three years.

Attorney Kauzlarich has practiced law since 2008. He leads the law firm’s appellate practice, authoring appeals to Pennsylvania’s Superior Court, Commonwealth Court, and Supreme Court and federal courts of appeal. Craig also represents clients in post-conviction motions, pardon applications and expungements.

Law Clerks Enhance Legal Services

Two law clerks have joined the Abom & Kutulakis firm for the summer of 2021.

Hunter Merideth
Duquesne University School of Law third-year student Hunter Merideth is a summer 2021 clerk for Abom & Kutulakis

Hunter Merideth, a rising third year at Duquesne University School of Law, is a resident of Shippensburg and completed his undergraduate degree at Shippensburg University.

While attending school, Merideth served an elected term on the Shippensburg Area School Board.

Dennis Scoggin, second-year student at Penn State Dickinson Law joins Abom & Kutulakis as a summer law clerk

Californian Dennis Scoggin is a rising second year law student at Penn State Dickinson Law in Carlisle, where he is treasurer of the student bar association.

Scoggin earned his undergraduate degree from Campbell University following his service in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Merideth and Scoggin will assist the firm’s criminal defense, family law and estate administration attorneys in legal research and the drafting of memos and orders, enhancing legal services for clients.


Criminal Justice Panel Appointments

Firm founder John A. “Jay” Abom and Senior Associate Attorney Brian P. Platt were recently appointed to the United States Criminal Justice Act Panel.

Firm founder John A. “Jay” Abom begins his 20th year as a Criminal Justice Act Panel attorney for federal criminal clients.

As panel attorneys, they represent indigent federal criminal defendants before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

This begins Attorney Abom’s twentieth year as a panel attorney. He was first appointed in 2001. It is the first appointment for Attorney Platt.

Senior Associate Attorney Brian P. Platt has been appointed to the Criminal Justice Act Panel.

Senior Associate Attorneys Craig E. Kauzlarich and Stephanie L. Cesare were previously appointed and also serve as Criminal Justice Act Panel attorneys for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Among other qualifications, panel attorneys must be up-to-date on federal defense law developments, versed in electronic discovery methods, and meet ongoing training requirements under the Criminal Justice Act enacted in 1964. Panel appointments are for three years.

Medical Marijuana While on Probation

A county in Pennsylvania overstepped when it enacted a policy that punished those on probation who used lawful Medical Marijuana. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Middle District ruled that judges and probation officers in Lebanon County may not deny those on probation access to Medical Marijuana or punish them for its use.

Lebanon County officials had claimed, among other arguments, that some individuals under court supervision have a history of marijuana abuse; and, that medical marijuana is not accessed with a prescription but is only a medical recommendation.

Lebanon had also been requiring people on probation with legally-obtained Medical Marijuana cards to testify at a hearing as to their medical need before those probationers could continue treatment.

The state Supreme Court said those probationers couldn’t be punished or denied use of Medical Marijuana. The Court said that county officials could verify the validity of a probationer’s Medical Marijuana card through the state Department of Health.

Inhaling the vapors of heated forms of marijuana is among lawful forms of accessing Medical Marijuana.

Pennsylvania approved the use of medical marijuana in 2016 for those suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma and other disorders and illnesses whose medical providers issued a certification of medical need.

The drug is provided at a limited number of licensed dispensaries, in specified forms, and only to those with state-provided Medical Marijuana identification cards.






Sexual Discrimination Includes LGBT

Firing someone because they are gay or transgender is a violation of federal law, according to a new ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court said gay and transgender employees are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.

The landmark ruling came on June 15, 2020, with the Court stating, “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

Firing an employee for being gay or transgender is against the law.

Employers must be cognizant of the rights of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers in making disciplinary decisions and terminating employment.

The Court heard arguments in “Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia” in October, 2019. Gerald Bostock and other individuals claimed they experienced unlawful sex discrimination because they had been fired for being gay or transgender.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch agreed that an employer violates rules against sex discrimination by intentionally firing an employee based in part on sex.

Gorsuch wrote: “It makes no difference if other factors besides the plaintiff’s sex contributed to the decision or that the employer treated women as a group the same when compared to men as a group.”

He wrote that, “…homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex. Not because homosexuality and transgender status are related to sex in some vague sense or because discrimination on these bases has some disparate impact on one sex or another, but because to discriminate on these grounds requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex.”

“When an employer fires an employee because she is homosexual or transgender, two causal factors may be in play — both the  individual’s  sex  and  something  else (the  sex  to which the individual is attracted or with which the individual identifies). But Title VII doesn’t care. If an employer would not have discharged an employee but for that individual’s sex, the statute’s causation standard is met, and liability may attach,” Gorsuch wrote.

The ruling affirmed judgments of the Second and Sixth Circuits and reversed a judgement of the Eleventh Circuit. Justices Samuel A. Alito and Brett M. Kavanaugh dissented.