July 18, 2018
Habeas corpus, also known as the Great Writ, was meant to be a “bulwark against convictions that violate fundamental fairness,” according to the Supreme Court. Yet today, federal courts provide relief in fewer than half of one percent of cases in which a non-capital state prisoner seeks relief through habeas. The Great Writ, it would seem, is no longer so great.
In Litigating Federal Habeas Corpus Cases: One Equitable Gateway at a Time, Eve Brensike Primus examines the various procedural and substantive hurdles that have been erected in the past half century that make it nearly impossible for state prisoners to obtain relief in federal court for constitutional violations that taint their convictions. She also offers strategies for expanding equitable exceptions to overcome these obstacles and achieve more just and fairer outcomes for state prisoners seeking relief through federal habeas.