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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Save Federal Court Review – Please Write A Senator Today

From Akron CrimProf Margery Koosed:

There is a proposal by Senator Kyl of Arizona to pretty much end habeas in all cases, capital and non-capital, set for markup tomorrow by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There are several disturbing aspects of this S. 1088 “Streamlined Procedures Act” bill including:

stripping federal courts of habeas jurisdiction if the state courts imposed a procedural default (with no ability to argue the propriety of the default or cause and prejudice and completely eliminating any ineffective assistance of counsel claim to resurrect the claim, unless clear and convincing evidence of innocence is shown),
prohibiting any review of a claim reviewed in a state court under plain error, fundamental error or any other higher standard unless clear and convincing evidence of innocence is shown;
prohibiting any review of a sentencing claim deemed harmless by the state court unless structural in nature;
imposing an absolute bar on any unexhausted claim (mandating dismissal with prejudice rather than a stay for exhaustion or even a discretionary dismissal), unless the state affirmatively waives exhaustion or clear and convincing evidence of innocence is shown;
permitting only one amendment of the petition unless clear and convincing evidence of innocence is shown;
eliminating almost completely ex parte funding hearings/pleadings;
excluding jurisdiction over any clemency or clemency procedural claim;
importing the federal crime victim's rights legislation into habeas cases;
providing that Attorney General Gonzalez will decide if a state is an AEDPA opt in (speeding up the process in such a way that it will hinder real review and discovery of facts and innocence) and that his finding "shall be conclusive unless manifestly contrary to the law and an abuse of discretion.") by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals;
and many more similar provisions,
that would all be applied retroactively to all pending cases.

In case you cannot open the document here is a link to it: http://www.theorator.com/bills109/s1088.html

Senator Spectre has proposed an amendment, but all it does is remove the provision stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction to consider harmless error and tinker a bit with the opt-in provision in a not too-helpful way. Though the ABA and others have been working hard against this bill, it is at serious risk of passing out of Committee tomorrow.
Please fax a letter today to the following critical member(s) of the Senate Judiciary Committee directly, and to the Senate Judiciary Committee itself, and give them your thoughts:

Judiciary Committee:
        United States Senate
        Committee on the Judiciary
        224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
        Washington, DC 20510
        Phone: (202) 224-5225
        Fax: (202) 224-9102

Sen. Brownback:
        303 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
        Washington, D.C. 20510
        Phone: (202) 224-6521
        Fax: (202) 228-1265

Sen. Specter:
        711 Hart Building
        Washington, DC 20510
        Tel: 202-224-4254
            Fax: (202) 228-1229

Sen. Feinstein:
      United States Senate
      331 Hart Senate Office Building
      Washington, DC 20510
        Phone: (202) 224-3841
        Fax: (202) 228-3954
        TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501

Sen. Schumer:
        313 Hart Senate Building
        Washington, DC 20510
        Phone: 202-224-6542
        Fax: 202-228-3027
        TDD: 202-224-0420   

Sen. Graham:
        290 Russell Senate Office Building
        Washington, DC 20510
        (202) 224-5972 phone
            Fax:  (202) 224-3808

Sen. DeWine
        140 Russell Senate Building
        Washington, DC 20510
        Phone: (202) 224-2315
        Fax:  (202) 224-6519
        TDD:  (202) 224-9921

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