IF A PERSON CONVICTED OF A CRIME INTENDS TO TAKE HIS MATTER TO FEDERAL COURT IN A HABEAS CORPUS PETITION, THAT PERON MUST EXHAUST HIS OR HER STATE COURT REMEDIES. THIS MEANS THE PERSON MUST PRESENT THOSE ISSUES THEY INTEND TO RAISE IN STATE COURT AND HAVE APPEALED TO THE PENNSYLVANIA SUPERIOR COURT. IN MANY STATES, EXHAUSTION REQUIRES AN EFFORT TO TAKE A MATTER TO THE HIGHEST APPELATE COURT IN THAT STATE BUT IN PENNSYLVANIA, THE MATTER ONLY HAS TO BE TAKEN TO THE PENNSYLVANIA SUPERIOR COURT.
A habeas corpus petition filed in federal court is really known as a Section 2254 Petition to those attorneys who handle such matters. So often, Attorney Mielnicki has taken over matters in Federal Court where the state court appeal process was handled by an attorney who simply did not care to properly preserve the issues for Federal Court or did not know how to do so. It is important that a person who has been convicted of a serious crime who wants to or may need to utilize all post-conviction procedures that they hire an experienced and competent attorney from the start.
Even though the writ of habeas corpus is mentioned in the United States Constitution, it is governed by a statute created by Congress.
28 U.S. Code § 2254 – State custody; remedies in Federal courts
(a) The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.
(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that—
(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State; or
(B)(i) there is an absence of available State corrective process; or
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant.
(2) An application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies available in the courts of the State.
(3) A State shall not be deemed to have waived the exhaustion requirement or be estopped from reliance upon the requirement unless the State, through counsel, expressly waives the requirement.
(c) An applicant shall not be deemed to have exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, within the meaning of this section, if he has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented.
(d) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim —
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.
(e)(1) In a proceeding instituted by an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court, a determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be correct. The applicant shall have the burden of rebutting the presumption of correctness by clear and convincing evidence.
(2) If the applicant has failed to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings, the court shall not hold an evidentiary hearing on the claim unless the applicant shows that —
(A) the claim relies on —
(i) a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable; or
(ii) a factual predicate that could not have been previously discovered through the exercise of due diligence; and
(B) the facts underlying the claim would be sufficient to establish by clear and convincing evidence that but for constitutional error, no reasonable factfinder would have found the applicant guilty of the underlying offense.
(f) If the applicant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence adduced in such State court proceeding to support the State court’s determination of a factual issue made therein, the applicant, if able, shall produce that part of the record pertinent to a determination of the sufficiency of the evidence to support such determination. If the applicant, because of indigency or other reason is unable to produce such part of the record, then the State shall produce such part of the record and the Federal court shall direct the State to do so by order directed to an appropriate State official. If the State cannot provide such pertinent part of the record, then the court shall determine under the existing facts and circumstances what weight shall be given to the State court’s factual determination.
(g) A copy of the official records of the State court, duly certified by the clerk of such court to be a true and correct copy of a finding, judicial opinion, or other reliable written indicia showing such a factual determination by the State court shall be admissible in the Federal court proceeding.
(h) Except as provided in section 408 of the Controlled Substances Act, in all proceedings brought under this section, and any subsequent proceedings on review, the court may appoint counsel for an applicant who is or becomes financially unable to afford counsel, except as provided by a rule promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority. Appointment of counsel under this section shall be governed by section 3006A of title 18.
(i) The ineffectiveness or incompetence of counsel during Federal or State collateral post-conviction proceedings shall not be a ground for relief in a proceeding arising under section 2254.
Unlike nearly every other issue that a trial court decides against a person, civil or criminal, a first appeal of a Section 2254 Petition is not a matter of right. The District Court that denies such a petition must grant the party desiring to appeal a “Certificate of Appealability.” If the District Court denies the petitioner the Certificate of Appealability, then that person can appeal to the Court of Appeals and immediately request such from that court. The Court of Appeals does often grant such.
Rule 22. Habeas Corpus and Section 2255 Proceedings
(a) Application for the Original Writ. An application for a writ of habeas corpus must be made to the appropriate district court. If made to a circuit judge, the application must be transferred to the appropriate district court. If a district court denies an application made or transferred to it, renewal of the application before a circuit judge is not permitted. The applicant may, under 28 U.S.C. §2253, appeal to the court of appeals from the district court’s order denying the application.
(b) Certificate of Appealability.
(1) In a habeas corpus proceeding in which the detention complained of arises from process issued by a state court, or in a 28 U.S.C. §2255 proceeding, the applicant cannot take an appeal unless a circuit justice or a circuit or district judge issues a certificate of appealability under 28 U.S.C. §2253(c). If an applicant files a notice of appeal, the district clerk must send to the court of appeals the certificate (if any) and the statement described in Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Proceedings Under 28 U.S.C. §2254 or §2255 (if any), along with the notice of appeal and the file of the district-court proceedings. If the district judge has denied the certificate, the applicant may request a circuit judge to issue it.
(2) A request addressed to the court of appeals may be considered by a circuit judge or judges, as the court prescribes. If no express request for a certificate is filed, the notice of appeal constitutes a request addressed to the judges of the court of appeals.
(3) A certificate of appealability is not required when a state or its representative or the United States or its representative appeals.
Note the reference to 28 U.S.C. §2255 in the above discussion. Such is the Federal equivalent of the Section 2254 Petition that applies to those convicted of crimes in Federal Court. Such is typically known as a Motion to Vacate.
THIS IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE FEDERAL HABEAS CORPUS PROCESS AND AS YOU CAN SEE IT IS NOT SIMPLISTIC. CONTACT THE PITTSBURGH CRIMINAL LAW GROUP SO THAT WE CAN PUT OUR COMBINED 80 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN CRIMINAL LAW TO WORK DEFENDING YOUR CASE.