Monday, May 13, 2013

Delay in State Habeas Corpus Process Deprives Petitioner of Federal Remedy

Rawlins v. State of Kansas, 2013 WL 1799992 (4/30/13) (Kan.) (Published) - Those of you enthralled by writ law [and who isn't?] should find this case fascinating. The state post-conviction proceedings took so long [10 years!] the petitioner had finished her sentence by the time she got to federal court to challenge her conviction. The d. ct. had no jurisdiction under ยง 2254 because she was not "in custody" when she filed her petition. Disabilities resulting from her conviction didn't change this. She sought relief under the writ of audita querela or coram nobis. But no dice. As we all know, the writ of audita querela only applies when unanticipated legal circumstances [like a new S. Ct. case], not unduly harsh collateral consequences, arise post-judgment. That didn't happen here. Coram nobis is an extraordinary remedy, which can be applicable when challenging a federal conviction. But, based on the history of coram nobis in England [a must-read], it is not a writ that one court may issue to another. A court can only issue the writ to itself. Coram nobis does not apply to state judgments, such as the one the petitioner attacked in this case.