Federal Habeas Review of State Court Convictions: Incoherent Law But an Essential Right
19 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2013
Date Written: June 1, 2011
This paper discusses the state of federal habeas corpus insofar as it applies to prisoners who have been convicted in state courts. The paper describes how as the result of a series of unfortunate decisions by the Supreme Court in combination with the misguided Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, enacted by Congress and signed by President Clinton, habeas corpus, once known as the Great Writ of Liberty, has been shrunk to a fraction of its former self and became doctrinally incoherent. The paper argues that, for a variety of reasons, including the increased politicization of the state judicial selection process, the sometimes asserted proposition that federal habeas review of state court convictions is no longer necessary because state courts are able to adequately protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants is profoundly mistaken.
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