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  #1  
Old 09-06-2009, 11:52 PM
jamesgrl08 jamesgrl08 is offline
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Default Questions about PCRA in Pennsylvania

I was bein nosey on my bf docket sheet and it said awaiting pcra decision..i tired to look it up but it wouldnt give me no info on it but that it took 60 days for a decision
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Old 09-07-2009, 07:02 PM
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You are not being nosey....you should know everything about what is on your bf's docket. PCRA is post conviction relief act--he has applied to the court for a hearing typically to present information about his case that was not presented during his trial. If you type in "PCRA-PA" you will get more detailed information.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:29 AM
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We have been asking my Fiance's attorney to apply for a PCRA, since June of 2009, and she has not done it yet. He is getting really frustrated at this, as she was ordered basically by the Judge, whom my Fiance also wrote to, to look into this ASAP. Now that was back in JUNE and now it is almost November and it still is not filed. Should we file it on our own? I have written her e-mails, called the office, etc, but still nothing. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:17 PM
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He can obtain the proper forms in the prison law library and submit them himself. That will stop the clock, which is crucial, and the court will then order that the current attorney handle it or will appoint another lawyer.
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Old 10-28-2009, 06:08 AM
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Thanks for the answer Bobble. I am not understanding your comment that it would stop the clock, which is crucial, part. Could you explain more? The court already wrote his attorney back in JUNE to look into it ASAP, and she still has not filed it. He is in on drug charges, given 2 to 5 which started March 19, 2009.
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Old 10-28-2009, 07:56 PM
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A PCRA must be filed within 365 days of the date his sentence became "final." "Final" is defined as 30 days after it was imposed, or 30 days after the date the last direct appeal was decided. Many inmates fail to realize that this clock is running and miss the deadline. At that point, there are a few very narrow exceptions to the timliness rule, so the PCRA is procedurally denied.

In your case, sentence was imposed on 03-19-2009 and became final on 04-18-2009 unless there was a direct appeal. He has until April 18th of 2010 to file his PCRA. Nothing between him, the lawyer or the judge tolls that clock, so he probably should file the PCRA soon.

When he files it, he can raise one or more of the enumerated grounds for relief. A lawyer is assigned to review the PCRA and amend it, either by adding or dropping claims. So, he doesn't have to file a "perfect" PCRA; he just has to raise whatever claims he feels are important and then let the lawyer perfect it.
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Old 12-05-2009, 09:56 AM
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Question Where can you find a PCRA form?

My fiance called me this morning and they got a sheet stating that PCRA forms are no longer available at the library (law) at SCI Albion. Does anyone know if there is a website that I can download the form and send it in to him to fill out and send in? We still have not heard anything from his attorney, although she was told by the judge to look into this in June of 2009. I have tried calling, e-mailing, etc to see if it was done yet, nothing on his docket sheet. He is eligible to apply for pre-release, he will be within one year minimum in March of 2010 to a half way house, that is if he gets the classes TC and VP I suppose although two counselors told him he could take them at half way house. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-06-2009, 12:28 PM
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I can't find one on-line, and I'm wondering how the prison could simply remove them without instructing inmates on how to obtain one. I will keep looking.

I checked DC-ADM-007, Access to provided Legal Services, and it still states that the PCRA form must be available in the Law Library. There was no amendment to the policy.
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Old 12-06-2009, 04:22 PM
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Bobble, when he called me Saturday, they had a slip of paper put under/through their door stating that the PCRA forms are no longer available through the legal library. He had asked to obtain one on Friday, and was not permitted to the law library, and then Saturday morning he received that notice.
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:58 PM
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I'll see if anyone in our office knows about this. I searched my old paper files in the hope of having one somewhere, but no luck. I'll also ask inmates in other prisons.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:06 AM
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Bobble I cannot tell you how much you have meant to me in these trying times. I am so thankful that you are willing and able to help out any and all who have questions. He asked again to go to the law library on Monday and was not permitted to go. A fellow inmate also told him that when he went down to the law library that they no longer have the PCRA forms, that he was told to just write it up on his own.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:35 AM
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Default Question about PCRA

Hello all, I hope someone can answer me. My fiance's attorney finally file the PCRA papers on 03/18/2010 (one day before it would have been too late). Anyone have any idea how long until we know what is going on with this? Does the court have so long to respond to the request? Also, does anyone know if he will have to be present for the PCRA hearing or if it can be done by teleconference? He JUST started the TC program on Monday 04/26/2010, woo hoo, and I would hate for this to screw it up. The guy who does the program told him that this is his ticket home!!! His minimum is 03/19/2011 but from my understanding if the PCRA goes through then it would be in September of 2010 for a 2-5 year sentence. Any help would be helpful on this.
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  #13  
Old 04-28-2010, 10:30 AM
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Bob will be around with an answer
but i have a question too on the pcra.... This attorony died and noone told him and nothing was filed :0 now what to expect..
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:12 AM
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For the OP: The court will usually advance the PCRA quickly, especially since there is already a lawyer on it. A copy of the PCRA is served upon the DA, and the DA's office is given some period of time to file a response -- usually 30 days. The court then decides if the PCRA has "merit". If it does, a hearing might be convened to gather evidence. If the PCRA can be handled without any new evidence, then it's all done in written submissions. Eventually, the judge makes a ruling.

So, he may not have to appear in court, depending on the claims he raised.

For K: Has the time period expired? If so, and he has some kind of record that he wrote and asked counsel to file the PCRA, he could try to file one now. he would have to ask for a waiver of the time limitation and provide a copy of his requests and some kind of evidence that counsel died before filing and no one replied to his request. A court would then consider whether or not he should be granted leave to file late.

I admit that this is a new one for me. The exceptions to the time period are few and strict, but a decent court-appointed lawyer should be able to make a good argument.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:19 PM
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I checked my fiance's docket sheet and it says a hearing is scheduled for the 28th of June 2010. I e-mailed his attorney and she didn't know anything about a hearing being scheduled for that date. This stuff is all so confusing. My fiance is now 4 weeks into his TC program, and if he has to go for this it will throw him back by two weeks, but I say its worth it if he gets approval for this as he could possibly be paroled after completion of TC (his original minimum is March 2011). My question, if he does get the PCRA approval, will parole see him soon as his minimum would then be September of 2010, but he also knows he has to complete TC which is scheduled for the last week of October. Any insight would be helpful.
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Old 05-29-2010, 07:51 AM
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If the PCRA action results in a change of sentence, then the Board will docket him based on his new minimum date. His status in a TC would be considered by the Board. They could either parole him upon completion or give him a hit.
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Old 07-12-2010, 10:32 AM
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Default appeal or PCRA success rate?

Just looking for a little ray of hope. Anyone have success stories to share on winning an appeal for new trial or a PCRA in Pennsylvania or even sentence reduction?
Our appeal attorney is a great guy but doesn't want to build false hope. But does anyone have any good news?
The sentence right now is 24 + yrs to 76 yrs
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Old 07-15-2010, 08:56 AM
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When my man filed a PCRA a few years ago I found a case study by I think Duquesne School of Law that stated from their research of PA PCRA cases that less than 1% have a positive outcome. It also talked about how theses cases are dragged through the system and how some lawyers are not quite knowledgeable enough about the process of filing because there are so many steps.
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:56 AM
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I concur with kare bear. The overall success rate is about one percent.

The PCRA process is very different from direct appeals. There are special procedures to be followed, and issues must fall within a set of very specific bases for relief. Those issues must then be crafted and argued in a way that keeps them within those guidelines.

Also, it's imperative to argue state law claims in a manner that also invokes federal (constitutional) claims, because the issue must be "preserved" for federal habeas corpus review. Claims which are exhausted solely on the basis of state law arguments will not be exhausted upon federal review, and that raises a procedural bar to them.

Simply put, any claim brought on direct or collateral appeal in a state court must also include a parallel argument invoking federal laws and cases so as to preserve that claim for future action in a federal court.

Once a prisoner ends his PCRA, his next move is federal habeas corpus, so thisis why preservation is important. Also, the federal clock is running during any gaps in the state level appeals, so it's important to "stop the clock" by filing the PCRA in a timely manner. It can always be amended after it's filed.
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Old 07-17-2010, 02:14 PM
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bobble, my guy finally has a PCRA hearing scheduled September 7, 2010, (it was filed back in March of 2010). His minimum is March of 2011 and we were wondering if it is even worth attending the PCRA hearing or just telling his attorney to drop it. He is in the TC program now, second phase, and he would probably miss a week or two of it because of this hearing pushing his graduation date back also. I mean, even if it is approved, and his minimum is then changed to September of 2010, he still will not see the parole board any sooner because we heard it will take 8 weeks for the decision and stuff to come back, hence going into November, which is around the same time he would see parole anyway....I guess the only possible thing that could happen is that he could possibly be home sometime in January or February if he goes before parole in November, and we are trying to get him to at least a halfway house when he completes TC if his counselor ever completes that paper work. I know I am all over the place on this but I am so frustrated that it took 6 months for his hearing to even be set up, and now thinking it would just be a waste of time.
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:49 AM
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I understand your frustration. Six months was a bit on the long side of average for the hearing to occur, but the summer months slow things down.

Would the outcome of the PCRA shorten his maximum? That would be a good reason to continue with it ... less time on parole.
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Old 07-18-2010, 05:19 PM
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I have no idea if it would effect his maximum. Now he is wondering if the PCRA does go through, and his minimum is then September of 2010, would he be able to go to a halfway house until paroled since it will be past his minimum. I am frustrated that his attorney waited until the absolute LAST day to file the PCRA motion, considering she was sent a letter from the Judge in June of 2009 to look into it ASAP since my fiance wrote the judge because his attorney never answered any e-mails we sent, phone calls, etc. So his attorney waited another 9 months after being told by the judge to look into it ASAP, and didn't file until March 19, 2010. We have been going round and round with his attorney about this, and I was ready to tell him to file one on his own until she finally did it, now the hearing isn't scheduled until September, he has already been told he will see the board in November, and from what I have been reading it takes a long time for that decision to come back, etc. SO I guess what I am asking, if the PCRA does go through, he completes the TC course last week of October, with seeing the board in November, could he possibly be accepted at a halfway house to wait their decision?
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:35 PM
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I was wondering if PCRA's dont work or only 1% do than why bother even going through with one? My fiance is in Somerset for life without parole and the Attorneys when we do hear from them are going for a PCRA but they havent even been doing anything on it. I was told they have a year to file for it so they have gotten so they wont reply back to our letters or phone calls. Is this the norm for Attorneys? Seems to me they should be working on his case every chance they get to make sure they can get either a new trial or lesser sentence. We sure could use some reassurance on this. If anyone can please answer questions we would appreciate it.
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Old 08-01-2010, 05:50 AM
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The low "success" rate is from the defendant's perspective, not the court's. It would be more accurate to say that about one percent of all PCRAs uncover a reversible error, not to get someone a better deal or show a little mercy.

The collateral appeal (which is the PCRA) is designed to address issues which are not addressed on direct appeal. The appeal looks at issues of jurisdiction, ineffective assistance of counsel, illegal sentences, etc. It's not the place to nitpick the case; that's what the direct appeal is for. So, by the time defendants exhaust their direct appeals, there isn't much left for the PCRA, which is why PCRAs rarely result in "victory" for them.

The time frame for filing a PCRA is one year from the conclusion of any direct appeal. In your fiance's case, the direct appeal may still be pending or it was finalized less than a year ago. The lawyer can't file the PCRA before the direct appeals end. Also, if the issue raised in the PCRA involves a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, then a different lawyer has to file it; a lawyer can't raise this claim against himself.
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesgrl08 View Post
I was bein nosey on my bf docket sheet and it said awaiting pcra decision..i tired to look it up but it wouldnt give me no info on it but that it took 60 days for a decision
Jamesgrl08, Do you know if 60 days is the time limit on all pcra decisions? Did you already have the hearing for the pcra,or are you waiting for the hearing? Thanx
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