Monday, October 06, 2008

Economical Thinking in Federal Habeas

Here is how a new draft by King and Hoffman, to be published in the NYU Law Review next year opens. Commentary will follow once I've read more. At the link you can download the whole thing from SSRN. Thanks, Doc B!

We believe that it is time to rethink the federal role in state criminal justice. The present approach is a failure, because it relies almost entirely on post-hoc litigation in the federal courts – especially federal habeas litigation. A recently completed empirical study,1 conducted by one of the co-authors of this essay, has exposed the futility of habeas review today. In 99.99% of all state felony cases – excluding those cases in which the defendant is sentenced to death2 – the time, money, and energy spent on federal habeas litigation is wasted, generating virtually no benefits for anyone. Non-capital federal habeas has become, in essence, a lottery, funded at great expense by taxpayers, open almost exclusively to the small group of state inmates who are sentenced to the longest prison terms, and producing almost no marginal increase in the enforcement of constitutional rights.

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