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    • On November 8, 2013, the court allowed appointed counsel to be dismissed/withdrawn, but denied defendant’s request to file a pro se amended PCRA petition which raised an ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) claim against appointed PCRA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"

    Not guilty on 1st Degree MURDER CHARGE (dec. 2022, Pottsville, Pa)

    Mr. Nenner's client faced first degree murder, third degree murder and various other charges. The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Whitted stabbed and killed a driver after an incident at a red light in West Brunswick Township. Throughout the trial, Mr. Nenner argued...

    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 Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – What is “Possession”

    Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019 One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often...

    Pennsylvania Second Degree Murder (AKA: Felony Murder) Law

    Philadelphia criminal lawyer David S. Nenner discusses the current status of second degree murder law in Pennsylvania. This is also known as the felony murder rule. Get info about PA court decisions and the agency theory. Not every case of death during the commission of a felony will result in a second degree murder conviction in PA.

    Philadelphia Murder Cases – Police Investigation Tactics

    Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases Within the last 10 years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not...

    Murder Charges in Pennsylvania – Murder Law in Pennsylvania

    An explanation of Pennsylvania murder laws including Section 2502. What is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and murder in the third degree. Get a summary of the definitions under Pennsylvania criminal law.