Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    Philadelphia, PA Criminal Defense Lawyers Win Appeal for Client Who was Denied the Right to File an Amended PCRA Petition (April 14, 2015)

    Nenner Law PCRA counsel filed an appeal on behalf of his client, and on April 14, 2015, a judge from the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County granted the appeal from a PCRA Order entered on November 12, 2013.

    PCRA Petition Background & Timeline

    • On May 18, 2009, defendant was convicted of 25 criminal counts, including robbery and burglary. On June 12, 2009, the trial court sentenced him to an aggregate term of 336 to 888 months of prison time.
    • Defendant filed a direct appeal, and on December 14, 2010, the PA Superior Court reversed the sentence and remanded the matter for resentencing.
    • Then on Feb 23, 2011, defendant’s sentence was amended, and he received a sentence of an aggregate 315 to 846 months imprisonment.
    • Defendant then filed a second appeal, and the PA Superior Court affirmed the amended judgment of sentence.
    • On April 10, 2013, defendant filed a timely pro se PCRA petition, and counsel was appointed to represent him.
    • A PCRA evidentiary hearing was held on September 24, 2013. Thereafter, defendant filed a motion to request the court to dismiss his appointed counsel and allow him to proceed pro se and file an amended PCRA petition.
    • On November 8, 2013, the court allowed appointed counsel to be dismissed/withdrawn, but denied defendant’s request to file a pro se amended PCRA petition which raised an ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) claim against appointed PCRA counsel.
    • On November 12, 2013, the court entered an order and accompanying opinion which denied defendant’s PCRA petition. Defendant filed a timely pro se notice of appeal.

    Crux of Defendant’s Appeal

    Defendant’s issue in the appeal is that the PCRA court erred by refusing to allow him to represent himself, which then prevented him from raising a Brady Violation claim. In addition, he alleged his appointed counsel was ineffective, and the court erred by not allowing defendant to file a pro se amended PCRA petition after the evidentiary hearing to include the IAC claim.

    Related: PA Post Conviction Relief Act Petition – How to Prove Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

    Court’s Finding

    The court ultimately ruled that if a defendant wants to waive his right to counsel, a proper Grazier hearing must be conducted. At a Grazier hearing, the court determines whether the defendant had validly waived his right to counsel during a PCRA hearing. In addition, the court must conduct an inquiry to ensure that the defendant is waiving his right knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently.

    The appellate court found that the inquiry made by the PCRA court did not meet the standards of a Grazier hearing. Further, the court erred by preventing defendant from filing an amended PCRA petition to assert an IAC claim.

    On April 14, 2015, the PCRA’s November Order was reversed. The case was remanded, and the PCRA court was instructed to conduct a proper Grazier hearing. In addition, the defendant was allowed to file his amended PCRA petition, either pro se or with private counsel.

    Philadelphia, PA Criminal Law Firm – FREE CONSULTATIONS

    Our lawyers focus on criminal cases in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Firm partner David Nenner has decades of experience. He offers a free consultation. Please call (215) 564-0644.

    Disclaimer: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. Our lawyers provide legal advice only after accepting a case. It is imperative that any action taken is done on advice of counsel. Read full disclaimer below.

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"

    MURDER, Att. Murder CHARGES – Negotiated Significantly Lower prison sentence (Feb. 2022, PHILA)

    Mr. Anderson faced murder and attempted murder charges after an incident in Northeast Philadelphia involving the shooting death of Anderson’s sister’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s roommate who was shot 5 times and survived. The decedent had previously beaten the...


    The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Shelton shot and seriously injured a male in a bar in North Philadelphia called Circles. There was video of the shooting which happened outside the bar. However, Mr. Nenner presented witnesses who testified that the person in the bar...


    Mr. Nenner's client was charged with multiple crimes (murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) after a shooting death occurred at a gambling house in North Philadelphia. At trial, Mr. Nenner successfully presented a self-defense argument and convinced...


    Mr. Nenner’s client was charged with murder and gun charges in Philadelphia. The client was accused of shooting and killing another male on Arch Street near the 5600 block of Ithan Street in Philadelphia. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating...

    Drug Possession Case – Motion to Suppress Granted

    Mr. Nenner presented evidence that to show that the traffic stop was a pretextual stop. The officer had no reason to pull the car over. The judge agreed and suppressed the evidence. As a result, the prosecution withdrew the charges.

    Sentencing for 1st Degree Murder in PA

    In this article below we discuss sentencing for 1st degree murder cases in Pennsylvania. In later articles, we will discuss sentencing for 2nd and 3rd degree murder cases. If you or a loved one is facing murder charges in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties,...

    Philadelphia Criminal Trials – Evidence Pointing to Another Perpetrator in Drug Possession or Drug Manufacture Cases

    In criminal trials in Philadelphia, one pretty common defense tactic is pointing the finger at another person at trial. This can raise enough doubt to result in a not guilty verdict by the judge or jury that the defendant was not the perpetrator of the crime. Here’s...

    Philadelphia Murder & Gun Possession Cases Increasing in 2021 – A Look at Common Charges & Defenses

    A look at PA criminal law for Murder (1st, 2nd, 3rd Degree), Aggravated Assault, Robbery, Possession of a Firearm, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia (misdemeanor).

    Pennsylvania Murder Charges, Deceased Person’s Statements Used to Prove Guilt

    Defense Trial Strategies – Excluding Statements That Accuse the Defendant Prosecutors often look to a deceased individual’s statements made prior to a murder to show that the defendant is guilty. These statements may point to a history of violence between the deceased...

    Pennsylvania (State) Drug Charges, Dog Sniffs & Constitutional Law

    Federal and Pennsylvania state courts treat narcotics dog searches differently. So different that the same scenario could result in different outcomes in federal versus state court. For example, a Philadelphia resident is pulled over for speeding. During the traffic...