Craig M. Cooley has investigated and litigated criminal appeals and post-conviction petitions throughout the United States for the last fifteen years. Mr. Cooley has represented prisoners on appeal, post-conviction, and federal habeas proceedings in the following states: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alambama, South Carolina, Nevada, Texas, and California.
Post- Trial and appellate litigation in Pennsylvania requires knowledge of appellate procedure, substantive criminal law, and criminal procedure, including the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure Pennsylvnaia Rules of Appellate Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. It also requires excellent writing, research, and oral argument skills. An appellate attorney must be able to review the trial record and identify potential legal errors that rendered the defendant's trial or sentence unfair. He or she must also write a pursuasive and comprehensive appellate brief that puts the defendant's legal issues in the best light.
Post-conviction litigation requires the same skills, plus expertise with Pennsylvania's Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), the Rules Governing Federal Habeas Cases, Anti-Terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), including Section 2254 (state court prisoners) and Section 2255 (federal court prisoners). It also requires investigative skills because during post-conviction litigation defendants can develop and introduce "new evidence" to the trial court to establish that one of his or her state or federal constitutional or statutory rights were violated. For instance, a defendant can develop and introduce "new evidence" to prove his trial attoreny was ineffective and that his inadequate representation rendered his trial or guilty plea fundamentally unfair. Likewise, a defendant can develop and introduce "new evidence" to prove that the prosecutor or police failed to disclose evidence that would've changed the outcome of the defendant's guilty plea, trial, and/or sentence.
Waiting with John Kunco's other Innocence Project Attorneys outside Westmoreland County Prison for John's release
Mr. Cooley possesses all of these skills because he has filed appellate briefs and/or argued before the following appellate courts:
Mr. Cooley has filed post-conviction petitions and argued them before the following trial courts: