After the Hurricane: The Legacy of the Rubin Carter Case

21 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2014

See all articles by Judith L. Ritter

Judith L. Ritter

Widener University Delaware Law School

Date Written: December 4, 2014


Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died in the spring of 2014 at the age of seventy-six. He was a top middleweight boxing contender in the early 1960s, twice convicted of a triple homicide, but then freed by a federal court in 1985 after he served nineteen years in prison. This article recalls his life, the homicide trials and the constitutional issues that led to his release. The article makes the point that had Rubin Carter’s federal habeas corpus petition been adjudicated under current law, he would have remained behind bars. Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in 1996. The Act greatly restricts a state court inmate’s access to federal court review. Moreover, in recent years, the United States Supreme Court’s application of the Act has made federal habeas corpus relief practically unattainable. The power of The Great Writ is in jeopardy. This paper, suggests that a revitalization of meaningful habeas corpus relief would be an especially appropriate legacy for Rubin Carter.

Keywords: wrongful conviction, habeas corpus, death penalty

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Ritter, Judith L., After the Hurricane: The Legacy of the Rubin Carter Case (December 4, 2014). Hastings College of the Law, U of California, Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, v. 12, 2015; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-41. Available at SSRN:

Judith L. Ritter (Contact Author)

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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