Thomas Place

Tom Place

Professor of Law, Emeritus

Phone: 717-240-5240

B.A., J.D., Marquette University 
Reginald Heber Smith Fellow, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Place on Teaching

To develop critical thinking skills I use a variety of teaching approaches including case and question, collaborative-problem solving, simulations, role-plays, and brainstorming. My goal is to help students understand the underlying policy of the law, appreciate the real world complexity in which legal problems arise, and argue effectively in support of  desired outcomes. 

Place on Scholarship

My research and writing focuses on issues of access to the judicial system with a particular emphasis on post-conviction remedies. My interest in this area was shaped by my early years working as a public interest lawyer, serving for many years as the director of the Law School’s Prison Clinic, and my work as a pro bono lawyer.  

Place on Service

My work as a pro bono lawyer and frequent continuing education speaker is part of a long tradition of professors at the Law School representing those without access to counsel and contributing to the legal profession.  

Place on Community

Legal education is more than classroom instruction. It is a shared experience in which faculty and students work together to create and maintain a supportive climate for learning. That shared responsibility extends to working together in clinics and programs to provide legal advice and representation to members of the community frequently under served by the legal profession.  

Place’s Engagement with the Profession

I serve as a federal court mediator, regularly speak to lawyers and judges on criminal procedure and constitutional law issues, and provide pro bono assistance to clients in a wide range of civil and criminal matters.  

Place’s Outside Interests

Outside the legal profession, most of my interests take me outdoors. I enjoy wilderness canoeing, alpine hiking, golf, long distance running, working with stone, and gardening.  

Place’s Publications

The Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act—Recent Developments, Pa. Bar Ass'n Q. (2018)

Post-Conviction Developments in Pennsylvania, 87 Pa. Bar Ass'n Q. 32 (2016)

Commonwealth v. Holmes and the Rule of Deferral: Short Sentences, Long Sentences and the Illusory Nature of the Good Cause Exception, 25 Widener Law Journal 49 (2016)

The Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act—Practice and Procedure (2016 11th ed.)

Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act—Practice and Procedure 10th ed. (2014)

Closing Direct Appeal to Ineffectiveness Claims: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Denial of State Constitutional Rights” 22 Widener L.J. 687 (2013)

“Post Conviction Developments,” 83 Pa. Bar Q. 67 (2012)

“Deferring Ineffectiveness Claims to Collateral Review: Insuring Equal Access and Right to Appointed Counsel,” 98 Ky. L. J. 301 (2010)

“Recent Post Conviction Developments,” 81 Pa. Bar Q. 110 (2010)

“Ineffectiveness of Counsel and Short-Term Sentences in Pennsylvania: A Claim in Search of a Remedy,” 17 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 109 (2007)

“Post Conviction Developments,” 79 Pa. Bar Q. 110 (2008)

“Dispatch and Delay: Post Conviction Relief Act Litigation in Non-Capitol Cases,” 41 Duq. L. Rev. 467 (with Donald Harris & Kimberly Nieves, 2003)

“Offensive Speech and the Pennsylvania Disorderly Conduct Statute,” 12 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 47 (2002)

“The Claim is Cognizable But the Petition is Untimely: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Recent Collateral Relief Decision,” 10 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 49 (2002)