Denver, CO (July 24, 2015) – Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer Peter Goldberger has been selected as this year's recipient of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award. He will receive the award tonight at the Foundation for Criminal Justice 2015 Awards Dinner in Denver, CO. This highly prestigious recognition is presented annually to the NACDL member who best demonstrates the goals and values of the Association and of the legal profession.
NACDL President Theodore Simon said: "Over the course of many decades, Peter Goldberger has demonstrated a wide-ranging and unparalleled commitment to NACDL, to the cause of criminal justice, and to civil liberties. In addition to fiercely and tirelessly advocating for his clients, he routinely and generously shares his considerable knowledge and talents with the entire defense bar, effectively ensuring we are better lawyers inevitably achieving better results. I am pleased to present Peter with this year's Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award, an honor and recognition the defense community uniformly and joyfully regards as richly and well deserved."
Peter co-chairs NACDL's Committee on Rules of Procedure, functioning as the Association's liaison to the Federal Judicial Conference's Advisory Committees on Rules. Peter also serves as a vice-chair of the Association's Amicus Committee, where he edits or authors several amicus briefs each year in the Supreme Court and other courts, and as NACDL's liaison to the prestigious American Law Institute's Model Penal Code sentencing reform project. He is a former Board member of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL), an affiliate of NACDL, and serves on the boards of the Pennsylvania state and Philadelphia ACLU affiliates. He has received both of PACDL's highest honors. Peter is a founding member of the Board of Governors of the Third Circuit Bar Association and currently holds the position of President of that Bar.
In addition, Peter has long chaired the Litigation Advisory Committee of Families Against Mandatory Minimums. He also advises the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women on legal issues and strategy, as well as the Innocence Project of Pennsylvania.
Peter is the founder and principal of a three-lawyer firm located in Ardmore, PA, near Philadelphia. For nearly 30 years, he has focused his practice on the post-conviction aspects of federal criminal cases, particularly sentencing and appeals. Admitted to appear before every federal appellate Circuit, Peter has argued about 200 appeals; he won his first federal criminal appeal while still a third-year law student.
He has also been appointed twice for cases on the merits, and has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as co-counseling several other cases in that Court.
Working for over ten years under a Criminal Justice Act appointment, Peter was one of the attorneys who in 2003 won the first DNA exoneration from death row in Pennsylvania. He achieved his second exoneration in 2014, overturning after 15 years of litigation an arson-murder conviction and life sentence. In that case, his work not only established a due process right not to be imprisoned on the basis of junk science, but also uncovered forensic perjury and fraud at his client's trial. His work has contributed to undoing many other unjust and unlawful convictions and sentences, in cases ranging from murder to drug offenses, as well as tax violations and other white collar crimes, and to establishing numerous precedents which have helped make federal trials and sentencings fairer to all.
After graduating from Yale Law School in 1975, Peter served as law clerk to then-U.S. District Judge (later Chief Circuit Judge), the late Edward R. Becker. He also served two years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender, and for one year was an associate with a legendary Philadelphia criminal defense firm. Peter is a former professor at the Villanova and Whittier College Law Schools, where he taught subjects including criminal law and procedure, and corporate and white collar crime. On several occasions, he has taught a course on Law and Morality at Haverford College, where he graduated with an undergraduate degree in philosophy in 1971. More recently, Peter co-authored a 100-page chapter on criminal appeals in the Third Circuit Appellate Practice Manual, and contributed the chapter on Fifth Amendment privilege to Collier on Bankruptcy, the standard treatise in the field.
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Peter lives in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, with his wife, NACDL member Anna M. Durbin. They have three grown daughters. A native of New York City, Peter was raised in New Jersey.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.