The Abolitionist Law Center represents Jerome “Hoagie” Coffey, a co-founder of the Human Rights Coalition and activist, in appealing his wrongful conviction in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Coffey has been incarcerated for 30 years, 14 of which he spent in solitary confinement, for a crime he did not commit and to which he was not linked by any shred of physical evidence.
Coffey’s 1994 conviction, which is currently being appealed, is a case of a corrupt police investigation that fixed the evidence to frame the suspect. Coffey was convicted based on witnesses who have since recanted their testimony, a jailhouse snitch, and two eyewitnesses whose initial descriptions of the suspect do not match Coffey’s description, but rather changed over time after repeated police contacts. Coffey’s conviction was the product of police coercion, an unconstitutionally suggestive identification, and compounding errors that occurred during his trial.
On September 11-13, 2023, Coffey had his first evidentiary hearing in his case, where witnesses testified about the police coercion and intimidation that occurred in 1994 and the lack of competent representation Coffey received at that time. Once attorneys for both Coffey and the Commonwealth brief all the legal issues, the judge will decide whether any of the claims raised will lead to a reversal of Coffey’s conviction.