By Giovanna Shay is an Assistant Professor of Law at Western New England College School of Law where she teaches Postconviction Rights. Christopher Lasch is a Lecturer in Law and Robert M. Cover Fellow at Yale Law School. The authors can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]
Possible Implications for Habeas
Although a civil rights case, Haywood may also have some implications for prisoners' habeas corpus actions. For the last thirty years, the Supreme Court has acted to narrow the scope of federal habeas review, increasingly relying on state courts to act as the central fora for post-conviction constitutional litigation. Considered in light of other recent decisions, Haywood might include the hint of a suggestion that at least some members of the court may be willing to subject the performance of state courts to greater scrutiny, to ensure they are not undermining federal law.
To be sure, comity and federalism have been a greater concern in federal habeas cases reviewing judgments of state courts than in civil rights cases like Haywood, and these themes will doubtless continue to sound as the refrain of habeas decisions. The court has said that comity concerns are at their highest in the federal habeas context, while in § 1983 cases, exhaustion of state court remedies is not even required, although the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) does impose an onerous administrative exhaustion requirement. Nonetheless, Haywood may provide impetus for change.