According to Department of Justice statistics, the United States currently has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, having exceeded Russia's rate in 2000. This course examines the legal remedies available inmates under state and federal confinement to challenge the legality of their custody. Primary topics will include:
1) Introduction and historical overview: The common law writs of habeas corpus and coram nobis; constitutional status of the writ of habeas corpus.
2) State postconviction remedies: Current state remedies, emphasizing the Florida statues and rules governing postconviction relief. Detailed examination of FRCPro Chapter XVII, the primary vehicle for state postconviction relief, including FRCPro 3.853, authorizing motions for postconviction DNA testing. Availability of parallel proceedings for common law writs considered, and the constitutional status of state postconviction relief examined.
3) Federal postconviction remedies: Study of the federal statutes authorizing habeas corpus relief for state and federal prisoners, sections 2241, 2254, and 2255; federal coram nobis remedies under section 1651; and the "Rule 35 remedies" available for correcting or reducing sentences for persons convicted in a federal district court. Along the way, examination of custody requirements, exhaustion requirements, and procedural default issues.
4) Clemency and other executive relief: Consideration of procedures for seeking relief from the executive branches; forms of relief available and grounds for granting clemency petitions.
Course Format and Requirements:
The course will be taught in both classroom and clinical settings. The material will be presented in lectures and discussion; students will also participate in the development of cases brought by Florida inmates seeking postconviction relief, based on DNA testing which the inmates claim will tend to exonerate them. The clinical component of the course will be conducted in collaboration with the Innocence Project, which has established a Florida program in Tallahassee. Students will also take a final exam. Materials will be prepared by the professor.