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April 19, 2012

Fascinating First Circuit discussion of the "Hail Mary" writ of coram nobis

Earlier this week, the First Circuit issued an interesting opinion discussing in an interesting setting the common law writ of coram nobis.  Even if you are not a big fan of common law writs — but, really, who isn't? — I recommend checking out US v. George, No. 11-1815 (1st Cir. Apr. 18, 2012) (available here), which gets started this way:

A Hail Mary pass in American football is a long forward pass made in desperation at the end of a game, with only a small chance of success.  The writ of error coram nobis is its criminal-law equivalent.  This appeal requires us to explore the intricacies of the writ, sift through the considerations that inform a determination to unleash that extraordinary remedy, and assess the extent to which discretion can influence a reviewing court's decision about coram nobis relief.  We conclude that a flexible, common-sense approach to coram nobis relief is warranted and that, in the last analysis, we have discretion to withhold the remedy where the interests of justice so dictate.  Applying this principle to the case at hand, we affirm the district court's denial of the writ.

April 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Permalink


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