We are happy to jump in prior to your hearing, however, if you call us for the first time after your hearing, we will decline to be involved or offer any advice. Our firm does not handle PFA appeals when we are called for the first time after your hearing.
From our point of view, if we are contacted for the first time after your PFA hearing, it’s too late for us to get involved, for the following reasons:
- Limited Deadlines to Act. A PFA hearing could be construed as a “trial.” In Pennsylvania, following any trial, you have a limited period of time to file the appropriate PFA appeal of the decision and /or appeal to the Superior Court;
- Limited Knowledge of What Happened at the Hearing. If we were not given an opportunity to be present at the hearing/trial on your PFA, we cannot even begin to second guess what the trial judge had done incorrectly (even if you strongly believe it wasn’t fair, this is for a lawyer to evaluate, based on the law), much less describe it intelligently in a motion for reconsideration to the trial judge or appeal to the Superior Court;
- Logistic Issues with Getting the Transcript For Our Review. We would have to read the entire trial transcript to know what happened at your PFA hearing, if we were not there, but the hearing transcript may take time to for the court reporter to prepare, for our review, frustrating our ability to meet post-trial deadlines; and
- You Don’t Automatically Get a “Do Over.” The Superior Court exists to review questions of law (decisions) made by the judge, which a lawyer can explain to you. The bottom line is, just because you’re unhappy with the judge, or his rulings, or how he talked to you, etc., you don’t automatically get a “do over,” and the hourly cost to appeal can be significant.
For these reasons, we strongly recommend that you retain a lawyer (even if not us) prior to your hearing to defend a Protection From Abuse Act (PFA) claim, or seek a continuance to obtain counsel to defend the PFA at the hearing, without banking on taking an appeal.
If you are calling us for the first time, after your hearing, we will not consider your case. Instead, if you are in Allegheny County, please contact the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) lawyer referral program, at 412.261.5555 for help with PFA appeals.