Jon Campisi Nov. 26, 2013, 2:00pm


An attorney from northeastern Pennsylvania with more than three decades experience in the field of law has been named chief legal counsel for the Legal Department of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

Joseph Cosgrove, who has been a private practitioner, public defender, conflict counsel, educator and judge, takes over for A. Taylor Williams, who had been serving as acting chief legal counsel after the retirement of Howard Holmes, a 25-year veteran of the department who began serving as chief legal counsel back in 2000, according to the AOPC.

“I am confident that Joe’s experience and expertise will benefit the AOPC and judiciary immensely,” Pennsylvania Court Administrator Zygmont A. Pines said in a statement. “I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the superior and dedicated efforts by Taylor during this time of transition.”

Cosgrove, of Luzerne County, obtained his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, his bio shows.

He has worked as an adjunct faculty member at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. for more than two decades.

Cosgrove has also served on the ethics committee at Misericordia University, which is located near Scranton, Pa.

A December 2009 profile piece in the Citizens Voice, a northeastern Pennsylvania newspaper, which was written around the time then-Gov. Ed Rendell appointed Cosgrove to a seat on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, says that the attorney has always been well known for his defense in death penalty cases.

In fact, Cosgrove, as a young, 34-year-old public defender back in 1991, was able to secure testimony from Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, during a client’s murder trial, the Citizens Voice story states.

“The most persuasive, the most emotional closing argument I ever heard was by Joe Cosgrove following the death penalty phase of the [Steven] Dunn Trial,” the paper quoted Tom Marsilio, an assistant district attorney, as saying.

As for his new job, Cosgrove, who is in his mid-50s, will be serving as the top attorney at the Legal Department of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, which provides general counsel to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the AOPC, and supports statewide jurists in Pennsylvania’s Unified Judicial System in the areas of litigation and administrative law.

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