SCOTUS Grants Cert in Walker v. Martin: Are California’s Standards for Habeas Timeliness an “Adequate” Procedural Bar?
Are California’s rules on habeas filing, which do not impose any hard and fast deadlines but are nevertheless enforced in many cases when petitioners delay filing for too many months, an “adequate” procedural bar, such that they can prevent a petitioner from being able to obtain relief in federal court if the state court has concluded that their habeas petition was filed too late? That’s essentially the question that the US Supreme Court will consider in Walker v. Martin, cert for which was granted on June 21, 2010.
(Update: A discussion of the opinion in Walker is here.)
The relevance of this case is highlighted nicely by the Ninth Circuit’s decision just last week in Banjo v. Ayers, where the federal district court imposed a procedural bar on the habeas petitioner, ostensibly because he had not filed his state habeas petition in a timely fashion, even though the state court never explicitly found the petition untimely. The lack of any specific, universally enforced standard for timeliness in California habeas practice creates a considerable amount of vagueness in the litigation, and it’s a fair question to ask whether this standard, on the occasions when it does get enforced, should prevent an individual from seeking relief in federal court.
(Hat tip: Crime and Consequences.)
Related Posts: Walker v. Martin Preview.