U.S. SUPREME COURT Some inmates get more than a year to dispute convictions

May 29, 2013 12:00 am • Robert Barnes The Washington Post
WASHINGTON – A divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a prisoner who presents credible evidence of his innocence can overcome a procedural barrier that he waited too long to go to court.
Federal law dictates that a state prisoner has one year from the time he is convicted to petition federal courts to say his conviction violated his constitutional rights – for instance, that he was deprived of effective counsel.
But Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the court’s liberal wing in ruling 5 to 4 that barring someone who has a credible claim of innocence from filing a habeas petition would be a miscarriage of justice.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote for the majority, stressed that such instances would be rare.
“The miscarriage-of-justice exception, we underscore, applies to a severely confined category: cases in which new evidence shows it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted” the petitioner, she wrote.
Besides Kennedy, Ginsburg was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a blistering dissent for his fellow conservatives. He said Congress was specific in writing the one-year limitation into the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, and that the court’s exception was “a flagrant breach of the separation of powers.”
“One would have thought it too obvious to mention that this court is duty-bound to enforce AEDPA, not amend it,” wrote Scalia, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
passed similar laws, and more have considered it as a protest of Planned Parenthood’s support of abortion.
As is customary, the court did not comment on why it will not review the 7th Circuit decision.

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