Monday, November 14, 2005

More on Habeas Corpus & the "Streamlined Procedures Act"

Here's a summary by the Justice Project of HR 3035 and S 1088, the House and Senate bills threatening Habeas Corpus. This is important.

The text below is from ACSBlog, back in July:

The innocuously named "Streamlined Procedures Act" amends the "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act" (AEDPA). Among other things, it:

· Takes away federal court jurisdiction to review constitutional errors in sentencing that the state court has deemed "harmless";

· Prevents prisoners from obtaining a stay to exhaust their claims that were never presented in state courts;

· Bars prisoners from amending their habeas petition unless the prisoner meets an "actual innocence" standard;

· Limits the grounds for allowing tolling of the one-year habeas deadline to those identified in AEDPA, preventing equitable tolling;

· Places Chapter 154 eligibility in the hands of the U.S. Attorney General, limiting relief to claims implicating evidence of actual innocence;

· Bars federal courts from entertaining challenges to state clemency proceedings.

AEDPA revised federal habeas corpus procedure by placing new restrictions on the power of federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus to state prisoners. It also curtailed the ability of federal courts to review state court decisions for constitutional error, mandating that far greater deference be paid to those state decisions. As written in SCOTUSBlog, "The constitutionality of AEDPA, in particular, those provisions that restrict a federal court's authority, continues to be the source of much controversy." If passed, this legislation would further that debate.

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