Gary Battaglini's never been to law school but the one-time South Philadelphia bookmaker has apparently learned to speak legalese. And speak it fairly well. Filing motions on his own behalf, Battaglini has won the right to an evidentiary hearing that he hopes will result in either his conviction being overturned or will earn him a reduced sentence or a new trial. If you're taking book on it, make it a longshot. But that hasn't stopped the soft spoken but street-savvy Battaglini from trying. The hearing, on his rule 2255 motion, is tentatively set for Thursday morning before Judge Eduardo Robreno who presided over the mob racketeering trial in 2012 that ended with Battaglini, 54, and three others being convicted. Battaglini was sentenced to eight years. As he had throughout the trial, Battaglini from prison has continued to insist that his conviction was without merit and that he was swept away in an anti-Mafia prosecution in which the feds played fast and loose with the rules. Among other things, inmate Battaglini, from his prison cell, filed a civil against his chief prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor 3d, and FBI Agent John Augustine alleging they withheld and distorted evidence that could have resulted in his acquittal. In a move that demonstrated the legal equivalent of chutzpah, Battaglini sought $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The suit was dismissed as baseless shortly after it was filed. But the issues remain part of Battaglini's ongoing legal battle. Whether he and his recently appointed attorney Hope Lefeber are able to fold them into the scheduled hearing could be problematic. Judge Robreno has limited the hearing to just one of six issues raised in a brief filed by Battaglini more than a year ago. The hearing is set to determine whether Battaglini's trial lawyer, Lawrence O'Connor, provided ineffective counsel by failing to file a timely notice of appeal after the convictions were announced on Feb. 5, 2013. The government contends the issue is fairly straight forward. O'Connor never filed a notice of appeal because "Battaglini never directed him to do so." Battaglini, of course, disputes that contention. The other issues on "ineffective counsel" focus on witnesses, government actions and the failure of his defense attorney to raise issues and objections during the trial. Those seem to be off point in terms of the timely filing of an appeal notice, but in an broader sense outline what that appeal might have been based on. Robreno rejected most of the arguments during trial, but that's what an appeal process is all about. Battaglini is arguing that he never got the chance to take his case to a higher court. In his motion, he cites several specific issues, including the failure of his defense attorney to challenge the credibility of government witness Michael Orlando and the admission of tapes from another government cooperator, Peter Albo, who was not called as a witness. Orlando, whose testimony was interrupted when he was briefly hospitalized, was described by the defense as a one-time drug abuser who was saying whatever the government wanted him to say in order to avoid prosecution for his own criminal activities. In his motion, Battaglini contended that from the witness stand Orlando was "free to weave any tale attendant to a smorgasbord of uncorroborated assertions, including that Battaglini was a bookmaker and loanshark...and that Battaglini boasted to the witness his mob association." He also argued that his defense failed to make a distinction between a $5,000 debt Orlando owed to mobster Steven Mazzone and a $500 "legitimate" loan that Orlando owed to Battaglini. Battaglini said the evidence showed that he only "advised" Orlando to pay the mob debt and that the $500 loan "was a legitimate debt having nothing to do with mob activities." He also pointed out that while Orlando claimed to know Battaglini, Orlando failed to identify him on three different occasions while on the witness stand. Just as detrimental to his defense, Battaglini said, was his attorney's failure to attack the tape conversations of government cooperator Peter Albo who was not called to testify, but who had secretly recorded a series of conversations that were introduced as evidence. Like Orlando, Albo was described as in debt to the mob. Why he was not called as a witness is at the heart of Battaglini's argument. He contends that only after all the Albo tapes were played for the jury through the testimony of FBI Agent John Augustine did the government disclose that during the trial -- in fact while the tapes were being played in court -- Albo recanted two key points in a debriefing with the FBI. That, Battaglini implies, is the reason Albo was never called to the stand, even though he was listed as a potential witness. An FBI memo of the debriefing, which was provided later in the trial, notes that "Albo directly contradicts, more or less, all of the information that he provided the government over the course of this investigation." Written by Augustine, the memo noted that Albo said he never felt threatened by either Battaglini or Louis Barretta, another bookmaker who pleaded guilty to gambling charges. What's more, he recanted an earlier statement that Barretta was a mob associate, claiming instead that Barretta "liked to throw names around."