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August 6, 2005

An engaging (but incomplete) habeas debate

Over at Legal Affairs' Debate Club, they have concluded this great debate on "How Important is Habeas?"  between Ted Frank, Resident Fellow and Director of the American Enterprise Institute Liability Project, and David Bruck, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse at Washington and Lee University.  As I expected, the habeas debate was fascinating, though it also was incomplete.  Despite occasional efforts by both debaters to raise a broader array of concerns, the debate more often than not centered around capital cases and issues of innocence.  Because the status, importance and future of habeas concerns a whole lot more than just capital cases and wrongful convictions, I might encourage Legal Affairs to give this debate another week, but with instructions that the debaters cannot discuss the death penalty or wrongful convictions.

Relatedly, the LA Times in this article and TalkLeft here note that the Conference of Chief Justices this week passed overwhelmingly a resolution urging the US Senate not to the Streamlined Procedures Act, which aims to restrict habeas appeals.  Here are a few quotes of note from the article discussing the resolution:

The [state supreme court] justices urged additional study and analysis of the 1996 [habeas] law "and the causes of unwarranted delay, if any" before Congress passed any new legislation on the subject.

The "interpretation and effect" of the 1996 law has "only recently begun to be settled," the resolution noted.  Making new and far-reaching changes in the law could spawn years of further litigation, the state judges noted.

"The ostensible purpose [of these bills] is to expedite matters," but that could "easily be subverted … by another decade of litigation," [Pennsylvania's chief justice Ralph] Cappy said.

August 6, 2005 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

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Comments

You are right on the money with your comment, "...future of habeas concerns a whole lot more than just capital cases and wrongful convictions." I hope they will take your advice concerning a broader discussion.

Posted by: Stanley Feldman | Aug 6, 2005 8:22:22 PM

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