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1.7: Post Conviction Remedies

Goal

  • Learn legal English vocabulary related to post-conviction remedies

Instructions

  1. Read about post-conviction remedies.
  2. Complete the exercise.

1. Post-Conviction Remedies

Following a conviction, a defendant may appeal to an appellate court.  Typical grounds for a defendant to argue that he was wrongfully convicted are that the judge improperly admitted or suppressed important evidence, the judge failed to provide proper instructions to jurors, or that the jurors engaged in improper conduct.  The state may not appeal a decision acquitting the defendant.

After exhausting other remedies, every incarcerated prisoner in the United States, whether convicted under state or federal law, has the right of habeas corpus. Habeas Corpus allows both federal and state prisoners to petition a federal court for relief on grounds that their incarceration violates the United States Constitution. The technical term for seeking this type of relief is to “petition for a writ of habeas corpus”. A writ is a type of legal command. Literally this is asking the court to “bring the body”. Today, “writ” is a very uncommon word in American English and also in American legal English. While writs were important in England and in early American history, the US has mostly gotten rid of writs. But the writ of habeas corpus still exists.

For example, assume David was sentenced by a California state court for robbing a bank.  He just learned that the California prosecutor paid Wally to testify at David’s trial.  Paying a witness to testify violated David’s right to a fair trial and his right to due process of law.

This violation of David’s right to due process of law should be grounds to vacate the judgment against him.  If the state court rejects his appeal, David’s right to habeas corpus means he can petition a federal court for relief. 

Complete the Exercise