Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Lee v. Lampert (9th Cir. - July 6, 2010)

The state court violated your constitutional rights, you say? It directly caused your conviction, eh? Indeed, you're an innocent person languishing in prison as a direct consequence of these violations of your constitutional rights?

We don't care. After a year, nothing you say matters. We're not giving you habeas relief, even if you convince us that you're actually innocent. Enjoy prison.

That's what the Ninth Circuit holds today. Oh, and drops in a mere one-sentence footnote the holding that a contrary decision would be unconstitutional.

The panel isn't the most pro-defendant in the universe, and consists of Judges O'Scannlain, Randy Smith, and Wolfe (sitting by designation from Iowa). But this is also the rule in many other circuits as well. Though not the rule in others.

The Supreme Court should have taken this up already. For reasons identical to the ones that Judge O'Scannlain explores in the opinion in the intra-circuit context. Yet has failed to do so.

We'll see what happens to this one. Though I think that resolving the circuit split would be more likely had the Ninth Circuit gone the other way.