Federal Habeas Corpus

     Federal courts hear two types of habeas cases: state cases brought to federal court (section 2254) and federal postconviction cases (section 2255). We will discuss each below:

     State Cases

     State federal habeas corpus proceedings are brought under 28 U.S.C. s. 2254. We commonly refer to these as "2254s."

     These proceedings are often times the last opportunity for a person convicted in state court to obtain relief. These are usually filed after the affirmance--or denial--of the appeal from the denial of the rule 3.850 motion.

     In order for someone to be eligible for relief under 2254, their sentence must:

(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.

     Further, in order to prevail, the claims must be exhausted, meaning that it was fully litigated in the state courts. There are exceptions to this rule when a person filed his or her rule 3.850 motion pro se or when his or her rule 3.850 attorney was ineffective, so it is important to have an experienced eye review the case for any possible claims that may have been overlooked.

     Federal Cases

     Federal cases are filed under 28 U.S.C. s. 2255. We call these (you guessed it) "2255s." These are the federal equivalent of the rule 3.850 motion. We file these for people convicted in the federal courts, and we usually file them following the affirmance (or, denial) of the first federal appeal.

     Like rule 3.850 motions, 2255s generally focus on the performance of trial counsel. When trial counsel is ineffective in violation of the United States Constitution, and when that ineffectiveness affects the outcome of the case, a 2255 petitioner is entitled to have his or her sentence vacated.

     Federal proceedings are very complex. The structuring of the petitions, the order in which we file related motions and/or memoranda, and the overall direction of the case is much different from anything filed in the state courts. The federal courts are much more strict with procedures and rules, and they expect attorneys to be aware of the procedures and rules.

     The methods we use in federal habeas cases are determined on a case-by-case basis. There is usually three times as much for us to review as there is in a state case, and the litigation can sometimes take on more of a trial path, where we file subpoenas and present evidence.

     It is very important to find an attorney who can meet the stringent standards of federal litigation when choosing someone to handle a federal habeas case. If you would like further advice on your case or a loved one's case, call us now!

     As in all other proceedings, there is a very strict deadline for filing federal habeas petitions. CONTACT US NOW to make sure that deadline does not pass!

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