Post-Trial Division

Post-Trial Division attorneys provide representation after the completion of a trial case by handling appeals, litigating post-disposition challenges for juvenile clients, representing adult inmates in post-conviction challenges to their convictions, or representing persons who have been wrongly accused to obtain exonerations.

DPA’s Post-Trial Division identifies and seeks to correct mistakes that affect someone’s life or liberty. The Post-Trial Division is led in its efforts to advance fair process and liberty In Kentucky’s criminal justice system by the individuals below. This site also has information on community resources for post-trial cases.


Tim Arnold​ graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois in 1993, and the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1996. Tim started his legal career as an attorney in the Juvenile Post-Disposition Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy in 1996, eventually becoming the manager of that branch in 2004.  He has been the Director of DPA’s Post-Trial Division since 2008.  Tim has argued cases before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the Kentucky Supreme Court, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as assisting with the briefing in the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Padilla v. Kentucky.  He has received the Furman Award for excellence in capital representation and the In Re Gault Award for excellence in juvenile representation from the DPA.  He has also received the Juvenile Justice Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for excellence in immigrant rights litigation from the American Immigration Lawyers Association for his work on the Padilla case. ​

The Post-Trial Division is divided into three branches: 

The Appeals Branch is responsible for representing adults and youthful offenders on direct appeal from their criminal conviction.   A direct appeal is limited to the issues which were raised at a trial or hearing, and is generally decided based on the pleadings and arguments presented to the court, without taking additional evidence.  The Appeals Branch represents clients ranging from capital cases to minor felonies, and occasionally misdemeanor  cases where the court has granted discretionary review.  If you need help with your direct appeal, contact the Appeals Branch at (502)564-8006 and they will help to guide you through the direct appeal process.  

The Post-Conviction Branch is responsible for representing indigent adults and youthful offenders throughout all 120 Kentucky counties who are collaterally attacking their criminal convictions. A collateral attack is a motion filed in the case that acts like a new action, where the court has the opportunity to take new evidence and consider matters which were not in the original record.  Although typical issues raised on collateral attack include ineffective assistance of trial counsel, denial of relevant discovery, and newly discovered evidence, the Branch also represents individuals on issues related to inmate discipline, parole, sex offender treatment and many other claims which arise after an individual is convicted and sentenced. Many post-trial issues are addressed by the Post-Conviction branch. The community resources for post-trial cases has a lot of information that is useful for those seeking help from this branch.

Within the Post-Conviction Branch is the Department of Public Advocacy’s Kentucky Innocence Project​​. The Kentucky Innocence Project (“KIP”) was developed to provide indigent men and women, who have legitimate claims of innocence, with a resource through which their claims may be investigated and presented to the courts of the Commonwealth for relief. KIP serves the entire state by not only addressing cases of wrongful conviction but also addressing much broader concerns in the criminal justice system. KIP seeks to introduce innovative social policies, to create progressive legislative and constitutional reforms, and to establish itself as a conduit for progress. Since its inception in 2001, KIP has been responsible for nearly a dozen exonerations of actually innocent people who have been convicted in Kentucky and has identified many more cases of concern where evidence which would exonerate the defendant is no longer available for testing.   

The Juvenile Post-Disposition Branch (“JPDB”) is responsible for representing juveniles confined to Department of Juvenile Justice Institutions on issues related to the fact, duration or conditions of their confinement, as well as handling appeals in public and status offense cases.  Duties of the JPDB include representing youthful offenders at resentencing hearings, assisting public and status offenders secure appropriate aftercare, assisting victims of human trafficking in receiving appropriate care for their victimization, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of recent juvenile reforms.


If the Unit Supervisors are unable to address your question or concern, the Branch Managers are available to assist in any way possible. If you have questions or concerns that the Branch Manager or Unit Supervisor was not able to address, Tim is available to help. 

Appeals Branch Manager

Kathleen Schmidt has served DPA as the Appeals Branch Manager since June 2007. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, and the University of Kentucky School of Law, Ms. Schmidt began her career at DPA as an intern in 1981 and as an attorney in 1983. She practiced in the Appeals Branch and became Assistant Director of the Capital Resource Center in 1989. She left DPA in 1992 to practice law with her husband at Schmidt and Etherton Law Office in Shepherdsville, KY, and returned to DPA in 2007. Ms. Schmidt has argued before both Kentucky appellate courts as well as the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.   She is the 2009 recipient of the Professionalism and Excellence Award, given annually by the Kentucky Bar Association. 

Post Conviction Branch Manager

Sam Potter is the Post Conviction Branch Manager of the Department of Public Advocacy. Sam graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in economics in 2000 and took his J.D. from Brandeis Law School at the University of Louisville in 2003.  He joined DPA in 2003 as an attorney in the Appeals Branch. He joined DPA in 2004 as a staff attorney with the Appeals Branch. 


Unit Supervisors manage all employees within their Unit. While serving as a Supervisor, they also maintain a caseload where they dire​ctly represent clients throughout the Commonwealth. If you have an issue or question regarding an individual office, the Unit Supervisor is happy to assist.   

Post Conviction, Frankfort Supervisor

Kieran Comer, after early involvement on the wrong side of authority, joined the United States Marine Corps after high school. When he was finished travelling the world for Uncle Sam, Kieran attended the University of Kentucky where he received a BA in Modern Middle Eastern History with a Minor in Arab and Islamic Studies. While attending the University of Kentucky School of Law, Kieran interned both summers in the Pikeville Trial Office of DPA and quickly realized the only difference between himself and those he serves was luck of the draw. Kieran joined the Danville Trial Office of DPA in 2009 as a trial attorney and handled everything from juvenile status offenses to capital cases before moving to the Post-Conviction Branch in 2014. Since moving to Post-Conviction, Kieran has handled many different types of cases for clients ranging from claims of actual innocence to filing suit against the Kentucky Parole Board. Kieran can be reached by phone at (502)564-3948.

Post Conviction, LaGrange Supervisor

Kara Lewis is the Directing Attorney of DPA’s LaGrange Post-Conviction office.  A graduate of Western Kentucky University and the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law, she began her career in public defense in 2001 at the Louisville Metro Public Defender’s Office.  She later worked as an Assistant County Attorney in Louisville, Kentucky, before returning to her public defender roots when she joined DPA in 2012.   Since then, she has represented clients out of the Bullitt County and Shelbyville trial offices before making her way to post-conviction.  She lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband, Todd, also an attorney, where they have surrounded themselves with dogs, cats, and way too many books. 

Juvenile Post Disposition Branch Supervisor

Laura Karem started her career in the DPA Bell County Trial office, where she soon became the juvenile specialist in her office. In that position, she brought tremendous change benefiting child clients. Following her successful stint as the juvenile specialist, Laura was appointed as the original directing attorney of the DPA Harlan Trial office. While in Harlan she had a broad practice in adult and juvenile cases, and continues to represent a client charged with murder. During her time in Harlan she was awarded the Eastern Region’s Against All Odds Award, Walker Award, and Toddler Award for her successes in a number of challenging adult and juvenile cases. Laura joined the Juvenile Post Disposition Branch in 2016, where she successfully navigated complicated facilities and assignments. 

Appeals Supervisors

Steven Buck has been a supervising attorney with DPA’s Appeals Branch since 2015.  He previously worked in the Appeals Branch as a staff attorney from 2007 to 2015 and as a student intern from 2006 to 2007.  Steven received his J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law and his B.A. from Kalamazoo College.  He is from Brighton, Michigan, and resides in Lexington.

Roy Durham is the Section C Appeals Branch Supervisor.  Roy has been in the Appeals Branch since 2004.   Roy graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in Business Management in 2002 and received his J.D. from Chase College of Law in 2005.  Mr. Durham began his career at DPA as a law clerk for the Appeals Branch in 2004 and upon graduating Law School in 2015, became the Motions Attorney for the Appeals Branch.  Roy has been the Section C Supervisor since 2018.