Paul Hetznecker has handled thousands of cases for more than thirty years. Mr. Hetznecker is devoted to fighting for the rights of his clients, defending the Constitution and confronting police misconduct. Below is a sample of Mr. Hetznecker's cases covered by the media throughout his career.

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Paul J. Hetznecker's Notable Criminal and Civil Rights Cases

The city also agreed to contribute $500,000 to a fund that will provide counseling to victims of police violence and offer community-led programming.

The city has agreed to pay a combined $9.25 million to hundreds of people teargassed, struck with rubber bullets, and detained by police during the 2020 racial justice protests after the police murder of George Floyd.

In a settlement order signed Monday by U.S. District Magistrate Judge David R. Strawbridge, the city agreed to pay plaintiffs in four federal civil rights lawsuits, as well as contribute $500,000 to a fund that will provide counseling to victims of police violence and offer community-led programming. That money will be distributed to grassroots organizations via grants through the Bread & Roses Community Fund.

The damages awarded to each of the about 350 plaintiffs vary depending on the circumstances of their cases, attorneys said during a news conference at the Paul Robeson House and Museum in West Philadelphia.

“This power must not go unchecked. It must be confronted,” said Paul Hetznecker, one of the civil rights attorneys in a team representing 240 of the plaintiffs. He said this is the largest settlement in a mass protest-related case in the city’s history.
Mar 20, 2023
Bond’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, decried Ruch’s actions even as he welcomed the settlement.

“While the settlement provides some measure of justice for my client, it doesn’t diminish the loss of her husband and the fact that he was taken from her by the brutal act of a Philadelphia police officer,” he said.

“Although this case is over, my fear is that without significant change in the process of training, investigating and disciplining officers, the people of Philadelphia will continue to be victimized through the improper use of deadly force by Philadelphia police,” he added.
Jul 28, 2021
Before the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the Secret Service announced that access to certain areas would be restricted. Graber, a paramedic, joined political protests outside the Restricted Area. Protestors breached the gated perimeter. The Philadelphia Police Department apprehended those within the Restricted Area. Graber was one of seven individuals taken into custody; the police did not prepare any arrest paperwork for Graber. Special Agent Boresky was charged with serving as an affiant for a criminal complaint against the arrestees. Another agent e-mailed Boresky a synopsis of the events and photographs. Boresky appeared before a Magistrate and signed an affidavit identifying Graber as having been arrested inside the Restricted Area, based upon his “personal knowledge,” “information developed during the course of this investigation,” and information imparted by other officers. Boresky was not present at the arrest, did not view any video evidence, and did not write the affidavit. Graber was detained overnight. Graber’s counsel provided news video clips confirming that Graber never passed through the fence. The charges against Graber were dismissed.

Citing “Bivens,” in which the Supreme Court held that a cause of action existed against federal agents who violated the Fourth Amendment, Graber sued Boresky for false arrest, unlawful detention, and false charges. Denying a motion to dismiss, the district court held that a Bivens claim could be brought against Boresky. The court later dismissed Boresky’s qualified immunity summary judgment motion. The Third Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction; the Bivens ruling is not a final decision and is not appealable under the collateral order doctrine.
Jul 28, 2016
Paul Hetznecker, a civil rights attorney that has rallied a team of lawyers to represent protesters, said there have been at least four arrests following protests in and around Center City.

Hetznecker couldn’t say what the charges were yet. at least some of those arrests were tied to police cars being set ablaze, a second attorney said.

Philadelphia police have yet to announce any arrests.
Jul 28, 2016
The 20-year-old required facial reconstructive surgery after he said an officer struck him with a baton in October 2020.

Alfonse Bowman, 20, of Philadelphia, filed a suit in federal court Wednesday detailing a previously unreported and violent encounter he said he had with an officer on Oct. 27, 2020 as unrest engulfed West Philadelphia the night after Wallace’s death.

Bowman and his attorney, Paul J. Hetznecker, have not been able to identify the officers involved.
May 26, 2022
The West Philly resident will remain on a minimally restrictive form of house arrest until he goes to trial on charges that he participated in the arson of a cop car.
Nov 11, 2020
A federal judge has ordered the pretrial release of Anthony Smith, a Philadelphia social studies teacher and organizer with Philly for REAL Justice, who was charged with helping to burn a police cruiser during civil unrest in May. He is expected to leave custody in the Lehigh Valley on Monday afternoon.
Nov 9, 2020
Federal prosecutors announced charges Thursday against several people related to the rioting that happened in the city following the death of George Floyd earlier this year. Four people were federally charged in connection to the arsons of two police vehicles that happened in Philadelphia in May.
Oct 30, 2020
A former Philadelphia police officer has been charged with murder for the shooting death of an unarmed Black man nearly three years ago.
Oct 9, 2020
"Holding police officers accountable for the use of deadly force in this city is long overdue," Hetznecker said. "The brutalization of young African American men has a long history in our city. The current Black Lives Matter movement reflects the immediacy of this paradigm shift."
Oct 9, 2020
The letter that Shahidah Mubarak-Hadi received in the mail late last month presented a dilemma.
Aug 4, 2020
Friends and family members say the Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal they know bears little resemblance to the caricatures drawn by extremist sympathizers and detractors online - or the portrait of a premeditated arsonist described by prosecutors in court.
Jul 2, 2020
Paul Hetznecker and a team of lawyers files the largest lawsuit against the Mayor of Philadelphia, the Police Commissioner and the City of Philadelphia stemming from the police paramilitary attack on residents in West Philadelphia on May 31, 2020 and on peaceful protesters on highway I-676 on June 1, 2020.
June 29, 2020
The FBI pursuit of 33-year-old Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal peels back the curtain on the extent to which federal authorities are using news footage, online histories and social media to track down and identify demonstrators believed to be responsible for acts of violence.
June 17, 2020
When Anthony Smith started getting messages Sunday evening that police were amassing in his West Philadelphia neighborhood along 52nd Street, he decided to check it out. He had been at a protest earlier in the day, helping people recover from tear gas and passing out water.
June 3, 2020
But because Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, a 35-year-old massage therapist, has spent more than two years behind bars already, she could be released in months.

Blumenthal’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, urged Surrick not to judge his client solely on her actions that day.

In dozens of letters submitted to the court, friends and family described her as a dedicated community volunteer and advocate — a woman who has devoted considerable time and money toward serving those struggling with drug addiction, homelessness, disability, and sexual abuse.

Lore Blumenthal: Paul Hetznecker challenges the sweeping federal power to charge two activists with property crimes in federal court and the FBI’s surveillance of protesters social media and internet use.

Representing activist Anthony Smith charged by the federal government with arson of a police vehicle.

Anthony Smith Released from federal custody.
Jul 28, 2022
Lawsuit claims wrongful death, conspiracy by police who fatally shot man outside his North Philly home
August 8, 2019
Paul Hetznecker Defense Attorney for Activists and Civil Rights victims
March 12, 2019
I met Paul Hetznecker when he represented protesters at an event OpEdNews covered, and our photographer was arrested for doing her job., March 12, 2019
Powerful labor leader and political donor John Dougherty was indicted today, along with City Councilman Bobby Henon and six others, on 116 counts for allegedly conspiring to funnel union money into a personal "slush fund" for Dougherty.

Dougherty, widely know by the nickname "Johnny Doc," has led the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 for more than 25 years. From that perch he has been a major political force in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, providing huge amounts of funding for countless political and judicial offices. His organization also provided significant amounts of funding for the campaigns of several Democratic candidates now sitting on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, including that of his brother Justice Kevin Dougherty., January 30, 2019
A 10-year veteran of the Philadelphia police force will be fired for violating department policy in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man two days after Christmas, top Philadelphia police officials say.

In late December, police were chasing a car driven by Dennis Plowden, a 25-year-old resident of East Germantown. Authorities believed his car was linked to a homicide., October 31, 2018
The city has opened its municipal wallet once again to settle the latest lawsuit filed against Officer Cyrus Mann — this time for $600,000, a city official said Wednesday. Mann remains on the Philadelphia Police force despite having shot three people in three years, one fatally.

Gregory Porterfield, 59, who survived being shot eight times by Mann, 34, and his partner Officer Joseph Reiber during a June 2014 traffic stop in Lawncrest, settled his federal excessive-force lawsuit against the officers and the city last Friday, according to Andrew Richman, chief of staff for the city’s Law Department.
Philadelphia Inquirer, September 5, 2018
When a Philadelphia police officer fatally shot an unarmed man in East Germantown six months ago, officials said the man had fled a car stop, then...
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 27, 2018
Criminal charges were quietly dropped Friday against a longtime Philadelphia school teacher who was seen on video yelling obscenities at and offering to fight a city police officer during a protest last summer at the Rizzo statue.

John Sheerin, 63, faced terroristic threats and harassment for the Aug. 19 incident that involved a bicycle officer at the foot of the Center City statue. Sheerin's verbal outrage was captured on video by local reporter and columnist Helen Ubiñas. February 14, 2018
"This case provides the criminal justice system with a watershed moment for meaningful reform. This is an important opportunity for police, prosecutors, and judges in Philadelphia to re-examine preconceived notions about police interrogations and confessions," said attorney Paul Hetznecker, who also represented Pinkney in his lawsuit against the detectives.

"It is well beyond the time for the criminal justice system in this city to carefully scrutinize the methods of interrogation used to obtain confessions," Hetznecker said. "The cost to those individual lives is devastating, as is the resulting loss of faith by the general public in the criminal justice system." October 30, 2017
Civil rights lawyer Paul J. Hetznecker, who filed the lawsuit and the initial records request nearly two years ago, called even this early step a victory in an age when security agencies have been given wide latitude to withhold documents detailing their operations from public records requests.

"It is important that this tool of transparency sheds light on the secrets of government," he said. "In a democracy, we should know more about what the government is doing than they know about the privacy and secrets of our own personal and political lives." November 15, 2016
"The government should not be investigating its citizens simply because they've raised their voices in dissent, whether it's against government or corporate policy," Hetznecker said Tuesday.
AP The Big Story November 15, 2016
Defense attorney Paul Hetznecker, who is representing some of the fence-jumpers,  said after his clients’ arraignments that he planned to challenge the Secret Service’s right to establish a secure zone that kept most protesters far from the sight of most politicians and Democratic delegates.

"They set an arbitrarily-designated zone and said this zone now becomes federally protected ground based on their unfettered discretion to say so," he said. "What does that say about how First Amendment rights are being undermined?"
July 31, 2016
One of the DNC protesters charged with allegedly breaching a perimeter fence in a no-go zone near the Wells Fargo Center has been detained, pending a hearing on Monday.
June 28, 2016
More than four years after Philadelphia police arrested dozens of Occupy Philadelphia protesters, the city has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle claims that officers violated demonstrators' civil rights.
Philadephia Inquirer April 18, 2016
Paul Hetznecker, a Philadelphia attorney representing the Occupy Philadelphia group, submitted FOIA requests to the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the FBI for records concerning surveillance of the Occupy Philadelphia group.

"It’s vital for every citizen to know the extent to which their activities are under surveillance by the U.S. government," Center City attorney, Paul Hetznecker. "The really critical question for our modern democracy is, to what extent can we maintain or retain our privacy? We need to reclaim our privacy rights if we’re going to attempt to survive as a democracy in this growing police state."
February 29, 2016
In addition to a successful career as a trial lawyer, Mr. Hetznecker has been a successful appellate lawyer as well.

On September 16, 2015 the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, sitting en banc, vacated the sentence for Mr. Hetznecker's client, Jermel Lewis. In a 10 to 3 victory, Mr. Hetznecker successfully argued that the sentence Mr. Lewis received for brandishing a firearm during the robbery was a violation of the Sixth Amendment right and did not constitute harmless error.

On February 16, 2016 Mr. Lewis was given a reduced sentence, ending a six year battle Mr. Hetznecker waged on behalf of his client. The ground breaking opinion is attached below at:
Septemeber 16, 2015
Attorney Hetznecker said he doesn't anticipate cases like Moses' going away any time soon. He said there is some respite to be gained through suing the city.

"What I can ask for is money," he said, going over what he tells potential clients. "What I can do is put [police] through civil deposition, and you will see them cross-examined and questioned. And maybe that will bring some catharsis to you because they will be called to bear and answer to their misconduct."
NBC Philadelphia, July 17, 2015
Paul Hetznecker, a civil rights lawyer who represented Bell and the Moses family, called the police investigation in his case a whitewash.

"Traditionally," said Hetznecker, who has handled scores of civil cases against police, "investigations into police-involved shootings conducted by the Philadelphia police have served a single purpose — to shield the officers from accusations of wrongdoing.", June 7, 2015
The City of Philadelphia paid $2.5 million to settle the civil rights claims stemming from a police involved shooting which resulted in the killing of an unarmed passenger of a stolen car and the wounding of the driver.

"Investigators recovered 62 bullet casings at the scene. Civil rights attorney Paul Hetznecker said an independent eyewitness stated that the two men were unarmed, their hands were visible at all times, and there was no reason for the police to fire.", November 26, 2014
AFTER TWO days of deliberations, a federal jury acquitted six former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges of corruption and fraud yesterday, debunking the government's claims of judicial dishonesty and ticket-fixing.

In count after count, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel read "not guilty" from the verdict sheet to a packed courtroom.
The Legal Intelligencer, July 25, 2014
A defense attorney in the Philadelphia Traffic Court trial Tuesday scrutinized how prosecutors offered immunity to witnesses in the case.
The Legal Intelligencer, July 9, 2014
The tension in the courtroom seemed to elevate in the Philadelphia Traffic Court trial Tuesday as a prosecutor and defense lawyer sparred over burden of proof issues during the questioning of a witness.
The Legal Intelligencer, June 18, 2014
In considering whether or not a police stop where a man was asked for identification was an "investigative detention" or a "mere encounter," the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices searched for a bright-line rule to distinguish between the two.

The problem, according to Paul J. Hetznecker, who argued before the court on behalf of the defendant in Commonwealth v. Lyles, is that these cases must always be viewed in the totality of the circumstances. Hetznecker said the authority that the police officers displayed when asking his client for his identification made the encounter an investigative detention that violated the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions.
The Legal Intelligencer, March 18, 2014
Former Philadelphia Streets Commissioner William M. Johnson was acquitted yesterday by a federal court jury of use of federal funds to pay for two parties held in his honor.

Defense attorney Paul J. Hetznecker contended that the jury must have had credibility questions with Robinson (the government's main witness) who testified for the prosecution. Johnson compared Hetznecker to a "pit bull" and said the lawyer did an outstanding job defending him against the charges.
The Legal Intelligencer, March 18, 2014
Mobster George Borgesi once boasted that he was a "professional" killer who had been involved in 11 murders, according to a government memo filed in the pending racketeering case against Borgesi and eight others. Borgesi's lawyer, Paul J. Hetznecker, vehemently opposed the prosecution's attempt to enter evidence about the murderous boast and about several other crimes tied to Borgesi by cooperating government witness Louis Bent Finger Lou" Monacello.

None of the crimes is linked to the racketeering conspiracy case before Robreno. Allowing the jury to hear about them, Hetznecker said, would "undermine my client's right to a fair trial."
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 19, 2012
Monacello, a key witness in the current trial, has described Borgesi as a demanding and volatile mob leader. The Lutz tapes were used to reinforce that impression.

As he had throughout his three days of testimony, Monacello, 46, insisted that the only reason he decided to cooperate was because he believed Borgesi planned to kill him.

He also admitted plotting at first to have mob capo Martin Angelina killed, but said he later settled on having him badly beaten.

Under grueling cross-examination from Borgesi's lawyer, Paul J. Hetznecker, the admitted mob associate denied that he cut a deal with prosecutors in order to get out from under his own criminal problems.
Big Trial Blog, George Anastasia, November 14, 2012
Borgesi, who was finishing a 14-year sentence for an earlier racketeering conviction when he was indicted in this case, was found not guilty on 13 of the 14 counts he faced with the jury hung only on the racketeering conspiracy charge.

"The jury is the last bulwark against government over-reaching," said Paul Hetznecker, Borgesi's attorney. Throughout the 10-week trial and in his closing arguments, Hetznecker offered a spirited and pointed defense built around that theme.

Hetznecker said he will seek bail for his client and also continued to argue that, in his client's case at least, the not guilty verdicts appeared to undermine and invalidate the racketeering conspiracy charge which is technically still pending.
Big Trial Blog, George Anastasia, February 5, 2013
The verdicts came on the 21st day of deliberations and after a trial showcasing what prosecutors contended was the latest generation of La Cosa Nostra to run local gambling, extortion and crime rackets, led by the understated 73-year-old boss known as "Uncle Joe."

They also deadlocked on the conspiracy charge against Ligambi's 49-year-old nephew, reputed captain George "Georgie" Borgesi, and cleared Borgesi of 13 other counts related to loan sharking and extortion of debtors.

Borgesi's lawyer said the verdicts were vindication and proof that testimony of a star prosecution witness, turncoat Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, fell flat.

"The jury rejected his testimony," Paul Hetznecker said. "They did not believe it."
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 6, 2013
James Morris, 33, a reputed drug supplier, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Like Coles and Baukman, he faces a life sentence.

His girlfriend, Thais Thompson, 32, was convicted of two counts of perjury but acquitted of three other related charges.

[Paul Hetznecker represented Ms. Thompson. She was acquitted of the most serious charges related to the drug conspiracy and weapons charges. As a result of the acquittal on these charges she avoided decades in prison]
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 5, 2008
Thompson's lawyer, Paul J. Hetznecker, had pointed out that Thompson was a licensed practical nurse with no prior convictions, and that she was the sole support and caretaker for her three children, ranging in age from 4 to 11. Hetznecker asked in his presentence memo that Surrick "strike a balance" and fashion a sentence that would restrict Thompson's freedom but allow her to continue to care for her children.
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 22, 2010
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Lawyers representing the estate of a man who was shot and killed one year ago today by police in North Philadelphia have announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department. The man's family and the NAACP are calling for a federal investigation into the department's use of deadly force against unarmed civilians.

"Over 50 shots were fired," notes Philadelphia attorney Paul Hetznecker, who says 24-year-old Jamil Moses was an unarmed passenger in a stolen Chevy Impala that was stopped by police near the corner of 23rd and Susquehanna last year.

"Police acted far beyond the scope of their authority and their power," Hetznecker claims. "They used excessive force in a situation where it was a car stop with two unarmed individuals. This should never have been the result."
CBS Philly, February 9, 2012
The mother of a man shot to death by police last February at the end of a stolen-car chase in North Philadelphia filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Thursday against six city police officers.

The Common Pleas Court lawsuit by Carolyn Moses, mother of Jamil Moses, was announced at the Center City law offices of Paul J. Hetznecker.

"Our society invests a tremendous amount of power in the Police Department to enforce the law, and rightfully so," Hetznecker said. "But that power must coincide with an unwavering respect for the civil rights of citizens. This particular case is an extreme use of excessive force, unwarranted under any scenario."
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 9, 2012
In the first full courtroom trials of Occupy Philadelphia, protesters arrested during their two-month campaign in the city, all 10 defendants were acquitted Thursday on charges of obstructing a highway during an Oct. 23 protest outside police headquarters.

"I think the judge was recognizing the validity of their expression of First Amendment rights," said lawyer Paul Hetznecker, who represented several of the Occupy protesters who appeared in Municipal Court before Judge Patrick Dugan.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 24, 2012
After defense lawyers Brian J. McMonagle and Paul J. Hetznecker argued that their clients were victims of mistaken identity in a murder case, a jury last week acquitted Benjamin Easley of Upper Darby and Clifford Parker of West Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Daily News, May 22, 2000
Nearly two decades after they were convicted, eight imprisoned members of the radical group MOVE filed court papers yesterday seeking a new trial in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer.

Attorney Paul J. Hetznecker, who represents the four men and four women, filed the appeal in Common Pleas Court, contending that prosecutors withheld evidence, that the MOVE defendants were railroaded by a judge sympathetic to the prosecution, and that court-appointed defense attorneys were ineffective.

"The trial was a travesty of justice," Hetznecker said at a news conference, called by Ramona Africa, spokeswoman for the MOVE organization. "The result cannot be just if the process of trial is unjust. The truth-seeking process was unjust in this case."
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 7, 1999
Renowned in the past for its refusal to use professional lawyers, MOVE finally hired an attorney, Paul J. Hetznecker of Philadelphia, to file a post-conviction appeal. He did so last fall, seeking a new trial for the eight convicts. His massive legal brief contends, among other things, that any shots MOVE fired in 1978 had been in self-defense.
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 2000
Paul Hetznecker, the lawyer who represented the MOVE members for years, said he hoped they would be paroled.

"It would be outrageous not to be released after all these years," Hetznecker said, adding that there was a "lack of evidence presented during the trial," especially about the three female defendants, who he said were in the basement trying to protect children during the confrontation.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 28, 2002
Paul Hetznecker, Judge Means' lawyer, said the judge was not stopped for an expired plate on the earlier occasion, but for another traffic violation he did not specify.

Means has served on the Common Pleas bench since 1992. For 12 years before that, he worked as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

"It's distressing that a white officer treated any African American driver in this way," Hetznecker said. "The fact that he's a Common Pleas Court judge just underscores the violation of constitutional rights."
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 13, 1998
TREDYFRRIN - A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge who said he was harassed during a police traffic stop because of his race has settled the federal civil-rights lawsuit he filed against the township and police department last year.

Judge Rayford A. Means released a joint statement with Tredyfrrin Township this week. "All parties have discussed the matters involved and are mutually satisfied with the explanations offered relating to the incident and any misunderstanding between the parties," it said.
Philadelphia Inquirer, January 30, 1999
"They had no probable cause to stop him," said Paul Hetznecker, Bailey's attorney.

Hetznecker called the case an example of racial profiling, which he said was rampant among both suburban and urban police departments in the area.

"They can't stop every African-American make who is in the area of a crime, that's unconstitutional."
Philadelphia Inquirer, November 19, 1998
Shelbe Carter was acquitted of murder, prompting outrage among the victim's relatives in a Philadelphia courtroom yesterday.

Defense Attorney Paul Hetznecker "My client now fears for his life. This whole thing happened so quickly. I told him to sit down, but he wouldn't."

Hetznecker attacked the "inconsistencies" in the testimony of two men who implicated Carter in the slaying.
Philadelphia Inquirer, November 20, 1997
Allen Ginn collected his life sentence and his handcuffs with resignation. He quietly thanked court-appointed lawyer Paul Hetznecker, smiled at family and disappeared with sheriff's deputies.

"He's relieved that he's not facing the death penalty," said Hetznecker, who declared the second-degree murder verdict a victory.
Philadelphia Inquirer, October 31, 1995
Defense Attorney Paul J. Hetznecker said the jury rejected the testimony of the key government witness...
Philadelphia Inquirer, September 22, 1995
"This is not about who killed Donna Bernstein," defense lawyer Paul J. Hetznecker told the jury. "Kenneth Bernstein killed his wife. The question is why."

As Bernstein, of Teesdale Street near Erdrick, sat with folded hands, staring at the defense table, Hetznecker told the jury that his client was "despondent" after the separation, and began using drugs and drinking heavily.

The lawyer said Bernstein was too intoxicated to form the intent to murder. He urged the jury not to return a first-degree murder verdict, and instead convict him of a lesser degree of homicide.

"Does a person who intends to kill do it in full view of 15 witnesses?" asked Hetznecker.

[Following his conviction, Kenneth Bernstein faced the death penalty. Following a penalty hearing the jury spared him and sentenced him to life in prison]
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 18, 1995

Defending the Constitution & Confronting Police Misconduct

7 pipeline protesters avoid trial; Prosecutor drops trespassing charges in exchange for community service
LancasterOnline July 8, 2019
Hetznecker cautions that the recent action by Congress does nothing to protect the privacy interests of U.S. citizens.

Paul J. Hetznecker, a civil rights lawyer who filed a lawsuit to make intelligence agencies turn over any evidence that they spied on demonstrators in Philadelphia protesting income inequality, said the modified rule "does not curtail the reach of these agencies to spy on U.S. citizens."

"The intelligence agencies can easily circumvent this requirement by broadly asserting that there is a remote and/or tangential connection to a national security 'interest' and therefore no warrant is required," he said.
The Washington Post January 17, 2018
Paul Hetznecker filed the lawsuit on behalf of Gregory Porterfield who was shot by two Philadelphia Police officers following a car stop.

Hetznecker said Mann's ability to retain his job is "essentially ratifying the systemic culture within the Police Department over the decades that: 'We're not going to discipline our own. We're not going to charge those who happen to wear a badge when they use excessive force.'" August 25, 2017
I called up another expert, Paul Hetznecker, a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer, who teaches at Arcadia University. Hetznecker disagreed with Gerhardt's take.

"One of the essential pillars of our democracy is that speech, especially political speech, which may be uncomfortable or even confrontational, be afforded the highest protection under the the Westboro Baptist case, ruling that disruptive, uncomfortable speech on matters of public importance, in a public forum, is protected under the First Amendment. The 'heckler's veto' doctrine is not applicable in this context, as that doctrine applies to government censorship that completely prohibits speech before it is made based upon the anticipated negative reaction of the listener. Raising a dissenting voice in a public forum regarding a matter of public importance is protected by the First Amendment." August 29, 2017
"This memo should be of great concern," attorney Paul Hetznecker told me after reviewing the document. "Mayor Kenney specifically pledged to discontinue the unconstitutional stops, frisks and searches that served as the centerpiece of the policing strategy under the previous administration. This memo clearly encourages the precise unconstitutional conduct that has been part of ongoing federal litigation for the past seven years." October 19, 2016
"This is racial profiling through computer models," says Hetznecker. "They’re creating categories of people who are supposedly more likely to commit crimes by looking at what their addresses are or at the past arrest histories of their families, stripping individuals of every protection afforded by the Constitution."
City Lab September 21, 2016
"The problem with that is that it ends up impacting the long-term the view of that person within the system because now they've been pre-judged," Hetznecker said. "If you've determined they're a risk to society, you might as well say they're guilty for who they are and not the crime they committed."
Newsworks September 1, 2016
Hetznecker said what happened to Pinkney should be a wake-up call for police and prosecutors. It underscores the need in Philadelphia, he said, for a strong independent review of police investigations by prosecutors.
Philly News, September 9, 2016
"We have an officer who was under investigation by the state police on multiple occasions" in shooting incidents before being hired as a part-time, then full-time, Coatesville officer, Hetznecker said in court. "I think that is relevant" to Fiorentino’s case and any possible bias that Thompson might have in his testimony.
Daily Local News, January 12, 2015
Some believe the department is not being transparent enough. Paul Hetznecker, an attorney who successfully sued the city and police in a wrongful death case for $2.5 million, said the newly published information "falls short of anything meaningful."

"There have been 56 police shootings in the past 18 months and not one of those investigations has resulted in disciplinary action against any police officer," Hetznecker said. "Offering the public the raw numbers without disclosing the nature of the review process, as well as the reasons for the internal findings, begs the age old question "Who guards the guards?"
Philly News, October 29, 2014
Even though police and prosecutors have cleared the officers of wrongdoing, city lawyers have settled more than 50 shooting civil suits in recent years. The lawyers say they were taking a tactical step to avoid the financial risk of courtroom verdicts.

Paul J. Hetznecker, a Philadelphia lawyer suing the department over an unarmed man police shot dead in a stolen car two years ago, said reviews by police Internal Affairs and prosecutors had been virtually meaningless for many years.

"It's an entrenched culture that has failed to train and to investigate excessive force over decades," he said. "It has reached a crisis point."
Philadelphia Inquirer
Paul Hetznecker, a lawyer suing the department in two police-involved shooting cases, said he did not believe the information posted on the website was part of a serious reform effort.

Hetznecker, who argues that the department suffers from deeply rooted problems involving civil rights violations, expressed suspicion about the motive.

"This is a poorly veiled attempt to justify the status quo - that is, the existing de facto policy of rationalizing the unlawful use of deadly force by Philadelphia police officers," Hetznecker said.
Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 2013
This year, Newton hired Philadelphia lawyer Paul J. Hetznecker and sued the city. The suit says the unsecured ride in the back of the van left Roberts badly hurt - and possibly fatally injured. Roberts' condition when he reached the hospital "was highly unusual and suspect," Hetznecker said.
Philadelphia Inquirer, December 9, 2013
Occupy Philadelphia scored its first major victory against its sworn enemy - the wealthy corporate culture - in court Monday when seven protesters were acquitted of defiant trespass at the Comcast Center and the movement seeks a second win today as twelve more demonstrators go to trial for the sit-in at a Wells Fargo Bank branch last November.

Attorney Paul Hetznecker, who represented Jeff Rousset in the Comcast trial Monday, said the prosecution failed to prove demonstrators were given reasonable notice to leave the building, citing video evidence shot by Philadelphia police's Civil Affairs Unit.
Philadelphia Metro, June 12, 2012
For the second time this year, a group of Occupy Philly protesters have walked out of court free and clear after a Philadelphia judge on Thursday dismissed all charges against them.

"Social justice and the struggle for social justice finds its protection in the First Amendment," said Center City attorney Paul Hetznecker, one of 14 defense attorneys representing the defendants. "Certainly this is a perfect example and expression of the court's recognition of how important our rights are."
Philadelphia Inquirer, April 26, 2012
They were charged with "defiant trespass."But after a Common Pleas Court jury on Tuesday acquitted the 12 Occupy Philadelphia protesters arrested in a 2011 bank sit-in, the trial judge shook their hands and called them the "most affable group of defendants I've ever come across."

"We have proof of the importance of free speech in a democracy, especially taking on corporate power," said defense attorney Paul Hetznecker, one of seven lawyers who represented the protesters without charge. "It's about speaking truth to power and its part of a long-standing tradition in this country."
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 2013
I interviewed Paul Hetznecker, one of the lead attorneys among a team of 14 lawyers who defended 31 Occupy Philly protesters who were arrested on November 30, 2011, shortly after Occupy Philly was shut down. Their trial was Thursday, April 26 and every protester was acquitted of all charges -- obstruction of a highway, failure to disperse and conspiracy. Hetznecker discussed the implications for Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide.

Paul Hetznecker on Acquittal of 31 Occupy Protesters. We had a team of 14 lawyers working on this particular case. We had a previous victory in February where we had a phenomenal team of lawyers working with the clients. It was a team effort and I was very proud to be a part of it.
OPEd News, Huff Post, April 30, 2012
A Philadelphia judge dismissed the most serious charges Thursday against an Occupy Philadelphia protester arrested Nov. 30 for assaulting a police officer after protesters were evicted from Dilworth Plaza.

Municipal Judge Karen Y. Simmons dismissed the charges of aggravated assault, riot, recklessly endangering another person, and resisting arrest that had been lodged against Gregory Harris, 29, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Most were charged with misdemeanor counts of obstruction and failing to disperse. But according to defense attorney Paul J. Hetznecker, only Harris was charged with the felony count of aggravated assault.
Philadelphia Inquirer, December 15, 2011
PHILADELPHIA Twenty-six Occupy Philadelphia protesters sued the city in federal court Wednesday, contending that their arrests two years ago after police and city workers dismantled their encampment in front of City Hall violated their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly.

The suit was filed by Center City lawyers Paul J. Hetznecker, Lawrence S. Krasner, and Lloyd Long III, who represented the Occupy protesters at trial. All three were among the charter members of what became known as the Occupy Philadelphia Legal Collective, a group of civil rights and criminal defense lawyers who agreed to represent the Occupy members free of charge.

Hetznecker said the arrests struck at the "very heart of our democracy."

"We live in a dangerous time when the right to gather in protest in a collective voice of dissent is criminalized," he said.
Philadelphia Inquirer, November 15, 2013
A Philadelphia judge on Monday acquitted six New York City antiwar protesters charged criminally Sept. 12 in a demonstration outside the U.S. Army's high-tech Army Experience Center at Franklin Mills Mall.

Defense attorney Paul J. Hetznecker said Municipal Court Judge James M. DeLeon acquitted the six of charges of conspiracy and failure to disperse during a protest by about 200 demonstrators at the Army exhibit and recruiting center.
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 2010
Group of activitists monitored by the State of Pennsylvania on Wednesday called on Gov-elect, Tom Corbett, to prohibit state agencies from gathering information about people's political and religious beliefs.

Paul Hetznecker, a Philadelphia civil rights and criminal defense lawyer, said people must guard their First Amendment rights carefully, or governments will take them away. "We give life to the First Amendment by raising the voice of decent." He said.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Paul J. Hetznecker, who represented the six defendants in the criminal trial, and Biren-Wright in her civil suit, believes that police over-reaction to protestors, as well as their lack of knowledge or appreciation for Constitutional protections, may be "a systemic problem throughout the country." Hetznecker says under Constitutional and state law, "There cannot be an arbitrary and capricious decision to end the civil rights of the protestors."
OPEd News, September 21, 2011
On January 13, 2010, four months after the arrest, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office withdrew all charges. Biren's attorney, Paul Hetznecker warns, however, of a "very dangerous development involving first amendment rights."

Hetznecker continued, "I think that is an unfortunate development that has been a pattern and practice that has been adopted by many municipalities throughout the country whether it's in Pittsburgh or in New York during the convention or here in Philly in the conventions in 2000, there seems to be a real effort on the part of police and authorities to eliminate or to discredit or to undermine the independent media documenting an event involving a political protest. It's unfortunately the trend in a very dangerous development involving first amendment rights not only of protesters but of those who are trying to convey the coverage and convey the message the protesters bring."
Huffington Post, January 25, 2010
PHILADELPHIA'S top cop has issued a memorandum to eliminate any confusion about a civilian's right to record, videotape or photograph officers in a public space. In another case Cheryl Biren-Wright, a former managing editor for OpEdNews, was arrested while photographing a protest two years ago outside the Franklin Mills Mall. Charges of failure to disperse and conspiracy were dismissed last year.

"The right of an individual to exercise First Amendment rights must be vindicated," said her attorney, Paul Hetznecker, who sued the city and eight cops last month.

"There must be some vigilance to protect these rights."
Philadelphia Inquirer, October 7, 2011
Judge: Identify undercover officers. The two were involved in a fight at a supposed KKK meeting. Four activists were charged.

A Philadelphia judge yesterday ordered prosecutors to disclose the identities of two police undercover officers involved in an altercation last year with antiracism activists who thought the officers were skinheads attending a Ku Klux Klan rally.

The other three maintained they were innocent. After learning the two undercover officers' presence was missing from all police paperwork, defense attorneys Paul J. Hetznecker and Lawrence S. Krasner argued that they needed to question the officers to see if they "set up" the activists.
Philadelphia Inquirer, December 13, 2008
Yesterday Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Palumbo upheld a prior ruling that will require the District Attorney's Office to identify the undercover cops who had posed as skinheads.

The original ruling was made on Dec. 12, 2008 by Municipal Court Judge Marsha Neifield.

"We felt all along that Judge Neifield's decision was the right one," said defense attorney Paul J. Hetznecker, who represents Jared Schultz and Thomas Keenan, two of the so-called LOVE PARK 4 protesters.
Philadelphia Daily News, December 12, 2009
A Philadelphia judge yesterday acquitted 14 antiwar activists arrested in September when they tried to present a peace declaration at the Center City office of then-Sen. Rick Santorum.

Smith said that five of the 14 represented themselves at trial and that the other nine were represented by Paul J. Hetznecker and Paul Messing, two Center City lawyers known for defending First Amendment-related criminal cases.
Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24, 2007
More than a dozen FBI agents raided the West Philadelphia home of an animal rights activist yesterday in connection with a federal investigation of a harassment campaign against an animal testing company.

Paul J. Hetznecker, a Philadelphia lawyer who has represented Cooney, said the West Philadelphia raid was part of an intimidation campaign.

"My concern is that the federal government, and in particular this administration, has coordinated a war on lawful dissent." Hetznecker said. "Regardless of the evidence, you become a suspect because you are dissenting."
Philadelphia Inquirer, October 29, 2004
Over 400 people were arrested during the Republican Convention, most of them on August 1 when thousands of roving protesters flooded the streets of downtown Philadelphia at rush hour in an unpermitted protest against the criminal justice system.

The "Cradle of Liberty" had become ground zero in a government crackdown on dissent.

"This was a witch hunt," said Paul Hetznecker, a lawyer representing a number of activists arrested during the convention. "It was an attempt to suppress free speech so that George Bush's coronation could go forward without any disruption to the Republican Convention or the City of Philadelphia."
Philadelphia Independent Media Center, December 15, 2000
"We filed the suit on behalf of the named plaintiffs who were here in Philadelphia to exercise their First Amendment rights, to demonstrate their political views at the site of the Republican National Convention," said lawyer Paul J. Hetznecker, who defended the puppeteers as their cases moved through the courts.
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 2001
The crackdown on political activists who participated in local demonstrations last week is likely to have a "chilling effect" on progressive movements nationwide, civil rights attorneys and activists contend. Street protests are being wrongly equated with terrorism, they say.

In early July, the Philadelphia Police Department acknowledged taking photos of activists who they suspected would participate in demonstrations during the RNC. Law enforcement agents also infiltrated protest planning meetings and monitored e-mail discussion lists. The District Attorney's office says prosecutors requested high bails -

This fact alone raises red flags for Paul Hetznecker, a civil rights attorney representing a batch of protesters still in jail.

"Who gave the DA's office information that these people were organizers?" he asks. "Infiltration and what other techniques are being used? A new era of federal surveillance is emerging. It is one thing to survey mob actors, but another to chill First Amendment rights by sharing information on activists."

Civil rights attorneys say street demonstrations are being raised to the same level as terrorism.

"What does it say about a democratic system when people out there exercising their constitutional right to dissent need to be watched, and are treated like enemies of the state?" Hetznecker wonders.
City Paper, August 10-17, 2000
The judge did not explain his reversal but agreed with defense attorney, Paul J. Hetznecker that the "Abolitionist seven" had a First Amendment right to protest in front of the courthouse.
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 10, 1999
Xavier Gallon reported that police took proceeds from his family's north Philadelphia grocery. Police respond to his complaint by charging him with false reports.

When Gallon's attorney Paul Hetznecker asked the officer about the Internal Affairs investigation, the judge asserted his rights against self-incrimination and stopped the proceedings.

"You're putting this man on trial here." Krase said. "He's not on trial your client is on trial."

Hetznecker responded, "The credibility of this officer is on trial." The lawyer continued, asking (Police Officer) Legradi if he knew he was the subject of a theft investigation, Legradi answered yes, the district attorney objected and the court stopped the proceedings. "That's it now." Krase said. "We got to stop right here to protect him....."He needs a lawyer to protect him and I'm going to protect him."

Mr. Hetznecker's client, Mr. Gallon was found not guilty on February 24, 1994.]
Philadelphia Inquirer, January 12, 1993
Frank Maimone and his lawyer, Paul Hetznecker, said Simmons' ruling would have no impact on the weekly protests.

"The judge didn't issue any stay-away orders," said Hetznecker. "All he was concerned with was them going into the building without permission. This does not preclude continued protest or exercise of First Amendment rights."

[Judge Earl Simmons found both clients not guilty three months later]
Philadelphia Inquirer, January 5, 1994
Mushroom union organizer and eight employees were arrested.

Paul Hetznecker, a lawyer for the strikers said he was surprised that criminal charges were filed against his clients.
Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10, 1993
Identifying these cases is "like finding a needle in a haystack," said Paul Hetznecker, an assistant public defender representing several men accused by the officers.

"What scares me and frightens me," Hetznecker said Friday, "is the thought that there are cases where the Commonwealth secured convictions in the past, based on the word of these officers, because the allegations against these officers either weren't known or weren't pursued."
Philadelphia Inquirer Sept. 1991
Paul Hetznecker the assistant defender who represented Simmons told the jury that Simmons' arrest had been nothing more than a pretext to cover up the police misconduct. Indeed Hetznecker contended the police had tried without success to pin the death on Simmons, who was in the police van with McFarland.

After four days of testimony the jury found Simmons not guilty of all charges. Hetznecker told the jury before they acquitted Simmons. "This case is about the ultimate abuse of police power, Hetznecker said." They have the power to murder a man and cover it up, to come in here and lie about it. They have that power."
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 3, 1992

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