Pennsylvania Public Health Law Bench Book Introduction pg 1
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC HEALTH LAW BENCH BOOK
Introduction and Acknowledgments
In an age when political unrest, global travel and emerging biological threats can combineto create social, political and economic havoc worldwide, Pennsylvania’s court system may be required to address unprecedented challenges.
For a number of reasons, those challenges will be particularly difficult – Pennsylvania’s publichealth law is a patchwork of statutes and state and local regulations that predate contemporaryConstitutional due process standards; defining federal and state jurisdictional boundaries in apublic health context can be problematic; Pennsylvania public health case law dates primarily tothe late 19th and early 20th centuries; the liberty restrictions on individual citizens which arise in apublic health context are civil in nature and unfamiliar to judges more comfortable in dealing withsuch issues in a criminal context; and, finally, in the public health arena traditional individualized,deliberative judicial process may result in delay that, literally, becomes a matter of life and death.Recognizing these complexities, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts developedthis bench book to provide Pennsylvania judges with the critical information they will need tohave when they are presented with public health cases. In collaboration with the University ofPittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health Center for Public Health Preparedness, the AOPCconvened researchers, writers, and a board of editors who have worked for the past year on thisproject. Given the nature of the threats that confront us, it is important to note this is ongoingwork. It will be expanded, updated, and corrected as time, circumstances, and changes in thelaw require.
This bench book is divided into three sections.
• Section One
contains a set of public health law Bench Guides which provide conciseresponses to the key questions that will arise when specific public health issues comebefore the court.
• Section Two
is analysis and background information on some of the legal issues thecourt may be called on to consider.
• Section Three
provides a glossary of public health related terminology, model ordersand a table of cases. In the bench book CD format, all material is hyperlinked tooriginal sources.Principal writing and research of this bench book was performed by Darren M. Breslin, Esq. andOwen J. Kelly, Esq., AOPC staff attorneys, and Elizabeth Ferrell Schmidt, Esq. and Patricia M.Sweeney, JD, MPH, RN of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Public Health Preparedness.