Philly Defender Q&A: COVID-19 Emergency

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Philly’s public defenders know that our clients, their families, and friends are extremely concerned about their health during this pandemic. We’re still doing our best to represent and ensure the health and safety of our clients and our communities, and are working hard to provide you with as much information as we can during these uncertain and stressful times.


What is the status of Philly’s Courts?

Philly’s Courts have begun the process of re-opening, with a number of new restrictions and procedures in place. Things are changing quickly, and the Defender is doing our best to keep track of these changes, and keep you informed. Click here for the latest status on court hearings during the pandemic


What are the Defender’s office hours during the COVID-19 emergency?

Our offices are open, but clients who wish to come in for interviews or other meetings must make an appointment with an attorney in advance.

Our hours are Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


I have a court date scheduled. What should I do?

Depending on the type of hearing, you may not be required to appear in court. Click here for an updated status of Philly’s courts.


My loved one has a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to the coronavirus. What should I do?

If you know someone in prison with serious health concerns, please email us right away at Be sure to include the person’s name, date of birth, PP# and any important details, so our Prison Services Unit can look up their case.


My loved one is incarcerated, but not in a Philadelphia county jail. Can the Defender help them?

Unfortunately, we have very little information or solutions for people held in state or federal custody, or those held in local jails outside of the city of Philadelphia. If you have questions about Governor Wolf’s reprieve order that can help some people in PA state custody, please find more information here.  

However, we may be able to help if your loved one has a case in the Philly courts, even if they are being held outside of our jurisdiction. Fill out our online information form if you’re not sure about your loved one’s status.


I have an open case in Philly. How do I know if I’m being represented by a public defender?

If you have an open case in Philly but are unsure whether you are represented by the Defender Association or by a different attorney, you can search by name on this website for your docket to find your attorney and get more information on your case. Whether represented by us or another defense attorney, you can get support on your case or for your loved one by attending weekly online meetings at these community-led Participatory Defense Hubs in Philadelphia.  


I have another question about myself or a loved one. Who can answer my question while your office is closed?

We have an online information form you can fill out by clicking here. Defender staff is monitoring your questions and assigning them to the appropriate attorney or department. 

As you know, people are extremely stressed about the health of their loved ones at this time. We’re getting a lot of questions through this form, so we ask for your patience as we review each question and work to get it the person who can help. 



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Here are some additional information pages that may help you:

What to do if a loved one is incarcerated during the pandemic

What you should know about pretrial supervision during the pandemic

Defender COVID-19 Information Request Form

Defender Frequently Asked Questions


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