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Criminal Defense PACDL: Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Gavel and Bill of Rights
Defending your rights in Pennsylvania since 1988

Calendar of Events

Calendar of Events






New Members Only Section: U.S. District Court addresses and counties of jurisdiction in Pennsylvania.

PACDL now accepts credit cards.

An Affiliate of NACDL: The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Welcome to the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers website.

The Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is a group comprised of law students and attorneys admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and who are actively engaged in the defense of criminal cases.

To learn more about the benefits of a membership with the PACDL, click here.




PACDL is changing its e-mail address to: Please change your contact information.

Philip Gelso elected President of PACDL

PHILIP GELSO was elected the 20th President of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL) on April 24, 2015 at the Association’s Annual Meeting in Harrisburg, Pa. Mr. Gelso’s office is located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Mr. Gelso concentrates his practice primarily in the area of criminal defense litigation and has handled many high-profile cases throughout his career. He is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts in Pennsylvania as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Scranton. He received his Juris Doctorate from Villanova University School of Law where he served as Chairperson of the Moot Court Board and received the Moot Court Board Distinguished Service Award. In addition to his long-time membership with PACDL, where he has served previously as a member of the Board of Directors, Vice-President for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Chairperson of the Continuing Legal Education Committee, Mr. Gelso is an active member of the American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Pennsylvania Bar Association, the PBA Federal Practice Committee and the Wilkes-Barre Law & Library Association. He has been an active member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 through 2009 and for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 2006. He has also lectured at Continuing Legal Education Seminars sponsored by PACDL and Pennsylvania Bar Institute.

Other Officers elected included: President Elect Mark B. Sheppard, Montgomery McCracken, et al., Philadelphia; Ronald L. Greenblatt, Vice President, Eastern District, Greenblatt Pierce Engle Funt & Flores, LLC Philadelphia; Bradley A. Winnick Vice President, Middle District, Dauphin Co. Chief P. D., Harrisburg; David B. Chontos, Vice President, Western District, Chontos & Chontos, P.C., Turtle Creek; Rita C. Murillo, CSJ, Secretary. Allegheny Co. P. D. Office, Juv. Ct. Div., Pittsburgh; Treasurer, Patrick A. Casey, Myers Brier & Kelly, LLP, Scranton. Board of Directors Members Jordan F. Barnett, Defender Assoc. of Philadelphia; Steven L. Breit, Lancaster; Jason S. Dunkle, JD Law, P.C., State College; James R. Elliott, Scranton; David R. Erhard, Steve Rice PC, Gettysburg; Peter Kratsa, MacElree Harvey, Ltd., West Chester; Ronald H. Levine, Post & Schell, PC, Philadelphia; Suzanne M. Swan, Pittsburgh; William J. Winning, Cozen O'Connor.


The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth has issue a national standard to ensure constitutionally effective representation for all juveniles facing a possible life sentence consistent with Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012). Click here for a copy of these guidelines.


PACDL President James A. Swetz has issued a news release on Governor Wolf's declaration of a moratorium of the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Read the news release by clicking here.



Amicus Committee

PACDL’s Amicus Committee spent a busy December, 2014 and filed one Amicus brief with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and joined in a Superior Court Amici filing. Our Amicus Chair, Barbara Zemlock, deserves our thanks and praise for all the 2014 filings. Barb, without you, this would never have been achieved.

In Commonwealth v. Barnes, filed December 23, 2014 in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Middle District, PACDL argued that the activation of police dome lights after pulling up behind a parked car constituted a seizure as a reasonable person would not feel free to leave.  Our thanks go out to David Rudovsky and Jules Epstein for writing this brief. Read the brief by clicking here.

In Commonwealth v. Batts, filed December 26, 2014 in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Eastern District, PACDL joined with the Juvenile Law Center, the Defender Association of Philadelphia and the Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project in arguing that the imposition of life without parole upon a juvenile is inconsistent with Miller v. Alabama and is unconstitutionally arbitrary and capricious. Thank you to Bradley Bridge, Marsha Levick and Emily Keller.  If you’d like a copy of this brief and are a PACDL Member, send a note to the office at


4/8/14 PACDL files joint Amicus with NACDL in the Third Circuit


Marc Bookman authored an article published in the December 6, 2014 issue of The Atlantic. It is entitled, “Does An Innocent Man Have A Right To Be Exonerated?” It’s about the Arizona v. Youngblood case. Here’s the link:

Simon made President of NACDL

Ted Simon, long time PACDL Member, became President of NACDL at their 2014 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on August 2, 2014. Read more about it here.


The 2014 Liberty Award, our highest honor, was given to Bradley Bridge, of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Also honored was Jules Epstein, of Widener University School of Law, with the 2014 Charles P. Gelso President's Award. Commendations were given to Brian Jordan, Heather Mattes, Eddie Raleigh and Ari Weitzman.

For a full listing of our 2014 - 2015 Officers and Directors, click here.


PACDL Committees

PACDL letter to Franklin County Bench regarding the “Early Accountability Program.”

Expert Witnesses in Sexual Assault Cases -- see Brief Bank tab in Member's Only section


Member Services

The MEMBERS-ONLY section is password-protected and limited to members of PACDL. If you are a member of PACDL and would like to obtain a password, please contact us.

Brief Bank

One of the valuable benefits of membership to PACDL is access to our extensive Brief Bank, a digital library of briefs written and submitted by our members.

PACDL Listserv

The PACDL Listserv is a private email-based discussion group for members of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.








Find a lawyer

Find a Lawyer

We are pleased to offer a searchable database of criminal defense lawyers in Pennsylvania. Click here to search our membership by name or county.

LibertyWatch Online

LibertyWatch Online is the online version of the newsletter that is mailed to PACDL members, featuring updates of important criminal decisions from Pennsylvania's Appellate Courts. To view a sample page, click here.


PACDL accepts checks, Visa and Mastercard as payment options.

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