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Capital Habeas

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In late 2017, the Committee on Defender Services (Committee) asked the Federal Judicial Center to generate a white paper on the potential effects on the federal courts and the defender services program of a determination that states have “opted in” to special expedited procedures created by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).

After a brief discussion of some of the changes under “opt-in,” as Chapter 154’s procedures are called, this white paper discusses the potential impact of opt-in for the federal district and appellate courts with jurisdiction in Arizona and Texas, the two states that have applied for opt-in status thus far.

In Print: Available for Distribution

This pocket guide provides a basic overview of the issues judges can expect to face when assigned a capital habeas case. It begins with appointment of counsel, budgeting concerns, and stays of execution. It then summarizes the primary procedural considerations that affect habeas cases - successive petitions, petition timeliness, state remedies exhaustion, procedural default, and amending a petition. The guide also addresses substantive considerations for case resolution, evidentiary development, and briefing procedures. Finally, the guide highlights some of the issues that often arise prior to an execution.


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