Posted On: May 19, 2011 by Stephen Bilkis

California Inmate Appeals Procedure Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled to allow the state of California to maintain its inmate appeals procedure. Under current California law, inmates must file habeas corpus petitions "without substantial delay." No concrete amount of time has been set for filing these petitions for now and it doesn't look like a deadline will be set in the future.
While most states have set deadlines for filing appeals petitions, California does not. It is not known why California does not have a set deadline. But according to the Supreme Court, California should not be forced to create one.
This decision comes after a California state inmate filed a lawsuit against the state because his appeals petition was denied. The inmate waited almost five years after being convicted and sentenced to file an appeal. The state of California denied the petition because of the five year delay. While the California 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the inmate and agreed that California should set a deadline for filing a petition, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise stating that the current rules governing the timely filing of appeals is appropriate, reports a NY Criminal Lawyer. The Supreme Court went on to say that the loose guidelines pertaining to the filing of appeals allows the state to avoid unintended consequences of adhering to stricter guidelines.
The inmate who filed the lawsuit was convicted of murder in Sacramento, California in 1986. He waited until 1991 to file a habeas corpus petition. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other Supreme Court Judges ruled unanimously that California was within its rights to expect inmates to file petitions within a reasonable time without having to specify a certain time frame, states a New York Criminal Lawyer.
The Supreme Court also concluded that the inmate waited too long to file a habeas corpus petition. The court also agreed that states should have the right to determine whether to accept or deny an appeals petition based on the time it is submitted. Depending on the circumstances, crime committed and other circumstances, The Supreme Court agreed that states should have some latitude when it comes to accepting or denying a petition. Since each court case is different, imposing that states set filing deadlines could cause additional problems in the legal system and prevent states from providing quality legal services to the public.

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