Paul J. Hetznecker

Adjunct professor, Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice

Easton 145 1 (267) 620-4755

About Me

Paul Hetznecker is a criminal defense and civil rights attorney in Philadelphia. Mr. Hetznecker is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. Formerly a staff attorney at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Mr. Hetznecker has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Defender Association since 2008, and co-founder of the X-Philly Defenders, an association of former members of the Defender Association.  An adjunct professor at Arcadia since 2012, he teaches courses on the criminal justice system, civil rights, and surveillance. 

Education History

Temple University

J.D., School of Law


Noteworthy Cases

(1993)   During a campaign to unionize in Chester County, successfully defended two dozen mushroom workers charged with various offenses, including riot and conspiracy.

(1994)   Secured acquittals for two members of the Catholic Worker Organization, protesting the closing of churches in impoverished neighborhoods.

(1995)   Capital murder trial, saved the life of a man charged with killing a Philadelphia Police Officer.

(1995)   In a highly publicized case, saved the life of a man charged with capital murder in the killing of his wife.

(1996)   Sued the City of Philadelphia Department of Corrections for sexual harassment on behalf of two female prison guards.

(1997)   Settled a wrongful death, civil rights suit against the Philadelphia police department in the shooting death of an armed civilian.

(1998)   Successfully sued a suburban township police department for a profile stop on behalf of an African-American Court of Common Pleas Judge from Philadelphia.

(1998)   Settled wrongful death case on behalf of the estate of inmate against the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

(1999)   On First Amendment grounds, secured acquittals for the Abolitionist Seven, a group of anti-death penalty activists charged with obstructing the administration of justice.

(2000)   Successfully represented dozens of protestors arrested during the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. With a team of lawyers secured acquittals for dozens of protestors.

(2001)   Successfully defended a man charged with a twenty year old murder based on false memory syndrome.

(2001)   Sued the City of Philadelphia on behalf of two dozen protestors arrested in the "Puppet Space" during the Republic National Convention. The civil rights suit was based on violations of both the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

(2002)   Successfully defended  protestors charged with riot, assault and conspiracy.

(1993-2004)   Represented nine members of the MOVE organization in post-conviction proceedings stemming from the 1981 conviction of the murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

(2004)   Defended an animal rights activist in a several cases, including a federal investigation.

(2005)   Represented a Muslim American in a two year investigation by the F.B.I. terrorism task force. The indictment against her was eventually dismissed.

(2006)   Secured the acquittal on behalf of a protestor arrested during the BIO 2005 convention.

(2006)   Secured an acquittal for the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Streets Department, the highest ranking member of Mayor John Street's administration indicted in the federal corruption probe.

(2007)   Represented peace activists arrested inside the building housing the office of U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. All were acquitted on First Amendment grounds.

(2008)   Settled a wrongful death, civil rights suit against the Philadelphia Police Department in the choking death of a suspected drug dealer.

(2008-2010)   Represented an animal rights activist on appeal to the Third Circuit following his conviction for conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act.

(2008-2010)   Represented members of the Anti-Racist Network charged with criminal mischief and conspiracy. Successfully argued a motion to disclose the identity of undercover agents.

(2010)   Represented six peace activists arrested at the Army Experience Center. All six were acquitted on First Amendment grounds.

(2012)   Represented Occupy Philly activists, securing acquittals in three mass protest cases based on the First Amendment.

(2012)   Settled civil rights case against the Philadelphia prison system for failing to protect a vulnerable inmate from the sexual assault by his cellmate.

(2012)   Secured an order for de-certification for a juvenile accused of murder. The defendant will now be tried as a juvenile instead of facing the prospect of forty years in an adult prison.

(2013)   Secured acquittals on 13 of 14 counts on behalf of a defendant in the biggest RICO conspiracy prosecution of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family in a decade. The jury hung on the remaining count.

(2013)   Part of a team of lawyers that secured acquittals for 12 Occupy Philly protestors arrested inside Wells Fargo Bank. 

Research Summary

Lectures, Seminars and Speaking Engagements

Course Planner and Presenter for Continuing Legal Education seminar (CLE), on Federal Court Adoption of State Cases. Sponsored by the Federal Defenders Office (Spring 1999)

Taught a seminar for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), Mitigation in Capital Cases (Spring 2000)

ACLU's Rally to Defend the Constitution Featured speaker (Fall 2007)                                  

Faculty Member for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project Training (September 2009)

Presented a Continuing Legal Education Seminar on The First Amendment and the Animal Enterprise Protection Act , Sponsored by the ACLU (Spring 2009)

Course Planner and Presenter of a Continuing Legal Education Seminar on Political Trials at the National Lawyers Guild Regional Conference (Spring 2010)

Guest Lecturer at the Villanova Law School’s Advanced Trial Advocacy, Course taught by the Honorable Juan R. Sanchez, Judge of the United States

District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (2006- present)

Guest Speaker, Careers in Public Interest Law, sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild at Beasley School of Law, Temple University (Fall 2010)

Faculty Member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) (Fall 2011)

Presenter at Haverford College in a panel discussion on Life After Life. (Winter 2012)