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June 23, 2005

More SCOTUS criminal justice rulings

Lyne Denniston at SCOTUSblog has the eary news in this post about the Supreme Court's work today.  As he reports, in Halbert v. Michigan (03-10198), the Court ruled "that it is unconstitutional to deny a free lawyer to an individual who has pleaded guilty to a crime and seeks permission to appeal." And in Mayle v. Felix (04-563), the Court ruled, by a 7-2 vote, "that an amended habeas petition cannot avoid the federal habeas one-year filing deadline, when it makes a new claim that is based on facts differing from those in the original pleading."  Finally, in Gonzalez v. Crosby (04-6432), another 7-2 ruling in a habeas case, the Court "ruled that that a rule 60-b motion seeking to challenge a District Court ruling on the statute of limitations for filing habeas petitions is not a successive petition, and thus may be decided by the District Court without prior permission from a Circuit Court."

Mayle and Crosby reinforce my view that someone should start an AEDPA blog, and Halbert is effectively summarized in this early AP report.  Readers are, of course, encouraged to use the comments to provide insights on these decisions and their broader significance.

I believe that today's rulings essentially clear the Supreme Court's criminal docket for the term (except perhaps for one last habeas case).  My gut instinct is that this has generally been a good term for criminal defendants, perhaps even one of the best for defendants during the Rehnquist Court.  If anyone has assembled a scorecard on SCOTUS's criminal justice work this Term, I would be eager to see (and post) the details.

June 23, 2005 at 10:21 AM | Permalink


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In light of Gonzalez and Dodd I am going to recomend to every client, everytime a new Supreme Court decision is issued that even remotely looks like it applies to you, file a 60(b) motion! I supppose eventually someone will get annoyed and clean up this AEDPA mess.

Posted by: rob | Jun 23, 2005 2:18:30 PM

Probably no such blog exists because AEDPA is and post-conviction relief jurisprudenceis beyond anyone's comprehension.

Posted by: Tom Lincoln | Jun 23, 2005 3:58:22 PM

Yes, someone *should* start an AEDPA blog. But blogging is time-consuming, and I suspect most habeas practitioners are so exhausted (err, no pun intended) just from trying to figure out how to pass through AEDPA's Scylla and Charybdis to get relief for their clients there's little time left to look up and see the big picture. But here's something that might get a good think-tank or academic type fired up:

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has introduced SB 1088, the "Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005." Apparently dissatisfied with the pace of state habeas cases, Senator Kyl proposes to:

(1) shift the burden of production on exhaustion of state remedies from the government to the habeas petitioner;
(2) exclude all unexhausted claims that do not involve retroactively applicable constitutional rights from federal habeas review;
(3) abrogate today's decision in Mayle v. Felix by
(a) allowing only one amendment as a matter of course and
(b) allowing further amendments only within the one-year limitations period and then only if the amendment involves a claim that applies retroactively;
(4) exclude all procedurally defaulted claims from habeas review unless they are retroactive;
(5) exclude all claims denied on the merits from federal habeas review unless the right is held retroactive;
(6) require all habeas appeals to be decided in 300 days;
(7) allow habeas review of capital cases in opt-in states ONLY with respect to claims that are retroactive;
(8) shift the determination of which states have opted in from the courts to the Attorney General;
(9) strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear claims related to state clemency decisions;
(10) make the determination of whether a habeas petitioner should have the assistance of experts the result of an adversarial hearing rather than an ex parte one; and
(11) extend the rights afforded victims of federal crimes to victims of habeas petitioners.

This bill is currently before the Senate's Judiciary Committee.

Obviously, this would effectively eviscerate habeas relief for all state prisoners -- especially capital habeas petitioners in opt-in states (to date, the only such state is Arizona). An AEDPA blog would help spread the word about this nasty legislation currently floating through Congress -- and spark some broader debate about whether the current standards of review are appropriate.

Posted by: keith hilzendeger | Jun 23, 2005 6:10:47 PM

I've got a nice domain I can "donate" for the next year:

send me an email if you're committed.

mary, mother of a 22yo male sentenced to 188 months for drug conspiracy

Posted by: mary | Jun 23, 2005 11:36:45 PM

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Posted by: | Oct 14, 2008 11:02:54 AM

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