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August 1, 2005

Terrific habeas debate over at Debate Club this week

This week over at Legal Affairs' Debate Club, the question is "How Important is Habeas?"   The Debate Club is always interesting, and I especially enjoyed my own debate last year with Professor Stephanos Bibas on the question "Can the Court clean up its Blakely mess?" and the debate a few months ago between Professors Richard Bierschbach and Michael O'Hear addressing "Will An Apology Save you From Jail?"  The habeas debate should be fascinating, in part because the participants are 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.

This week's important and timely debate topic is set up at Legal Affairs with this introduction:

Habeas corpus, through which a prisoner can challenge the authority of a prison to hold him, has long been considered a crucial tool for prisoners trying to have their sentences overturned.  But since the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act — a series of laws designed to "deter terrorism" and "provide for an effective death penalty" passed in response to the Oklahoma City bombing — attempts to limit habeas have become more and more common as, according to Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, habeas petitions have continued to increase.

Next month, the Senate will consider a bill designed to limit what Kyl calls "endless death penalty appeals" under habeas provisions. Critics argue that the new bill would gut constitutional protection for criminals and sanction the execution of the falsely convicted.

Should Congress limit habeas appeals?

Ted Frank has kick the debate off in provocative ways, though his remarks focus on death penalty litigation even though the status and future of habeas concerns a lot more than just capital cases.

August 1, 2005 at 03:08 PM | Permalink


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