Academic journal article William and Mary Law Review

Is Guilt Dispositive? Federal Habeas after Martinez

Academic journal article William and Mary Law Review

Is Guilt Dispositive? Federal Habeas after Martinez

Article excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS  INTRODUCTION I. THE ORIGINAL MODEL: INNOCENCE AS IRRELEVANT     A. A Brief History of Modern Habeas, 1789-1970     B. An (Un)-Friendly Response to the Expanding        Reach of the Writ II. The Innocence Revolution: Guilt as Dispositive     A. A Focus on Guilt Rather Than Innocence     B. Modern Habeas and the Role of Guilt        1. Substantive Doctrines That Focus on Guilt           a. Strickland and Brady Claims           b. Harmless Error           c. AEDPA Deference Disadvantages the Guilty        2. Procedures That Focus on Guilt           a. The Stone v. Powell Limit           b. The Teague Limit           c. Successive Petitions Limit           d. Limited Factual Development Under              [section] 2254(e)(2)           e. Procedural Default           f. The AEDPA Statute of Limitations           g. Habeas Relief Based on Non-Constitutional              Errors        3. Distorting Doctrine to Prioritize Guilt III. PROSPECTS FOR A NON-INNOCENCE ORIENTATION: THE     "FULL AND FAIR" COUNTER-REVOLUTION     A. Academic Projects Identifying Habeas as a Procedural        Safeguard     B. The Procedural Trilogy: Holland-Maples-Martinez        and the Judicial Recognition of a Right to One        Full and Fair Review of All Claims        1. Holland v. Florida        2. Maples v. Thomas        3. Martinez v. Ryan     C. The End of Innocence: Seeing the Scholarly        Influence in Modern Habeas IV. Reading the Tea Leaves: Gauging the Import of the     Martinez Line of Cases     A. The Possibility of Raising the Claim on        Direct Appeal     B. Right to Trial Counsel as a Unique Protection for        the Innocent     C. The Limits of [section] 2254(e)(2) on Factual Development     D. The Federal Statute of Limitations CONCLUSION 

INTRODUCTION

The conventional wisdom is that federal habeas is a meager shadow of its former self. (1) The once "Great Writ," (2) it seems, has become emaciated by unforgiving procedural rules and one of the most deferential substantive standards of review known to law. (3) Federal review is inhospitable to relief and ever more focused on the actual innocence of the defendant. The answer to the most famous question about federal habeas corpus--"Is innocence irrelevant?" (4)--then, increasingly seems to be no. Indeed, one might fairly assert that, in light of modern statutory and case law developments, guilt and innocence have become the central considerations--that is, guilt is dispositive such that procedural vindication in the absence of a claim of innocence is rare to the point of near impossibility. The Supreme Court's recent abandonment of the habeas statute of limitations in the face of a colorable claim of innocence is illustrative. (5)

Perhaps, however, a shift is afoot. In just the last couple of terms, the Court's jurisprudence has reflected a newfound interest in permitting federal habeas to play the role of ensuring a full and fair state court process. (6) Although it is far too early to make concrete predictions, some of the habeas scholars who have advocated a process-based orientation for federal review have seen signs of such theories being vindicated in habeas doctrine. Recent cases provide support for the view that federal habeas must, at the very least, play an active role in policing the procedures of state appellate and postconviction review. There is, in short, a resurgence of optimism in a legal-process view of habeas corpus. This Article maps the ebbs and flows of guilt-centered adjudications in federal habeas for the last century and is the first to examine in detail the scope of this new, process-oriented habeas optimism by considering the promises and limits of recent doctrinal shifts. A new era of federal habeas review--one that is concerned with process and not just guilt--is not inconceivable.

Part I revisits the details of Judge Friendly's half-century-old critique of expansive federal habeas. In particular, I explore the context for his assertion that a colorable claim of innocence should generally be required for a federal court to ignore the limits of finality and set aside a state conviction. …

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