Monday, September 15, 2014

Court addresses circumstances supporting a stay of habeas proceedings

Doe v. Jones, 2014 WL 3906849 (8/12/14) (Okl.) (Published) - A district court has the discretion to stay ยง 2254 proceedings where all of the claims are unexhausted. This theoretically would enable the petitioner to exhaust state remedies without worrying about getting to federal court after the statute of limitations runs out. Here there might be good cause for a stay because only two days remained for the statute of limitations. But no dice in this case. Mr. Doe's only claim is actual innocence and that claim would excuse any untimeliness under the recent Supreme Court McQuiggins decision. So no need for a stay. Judge Tymkovich concurs in the judgment, but dissents in part. He wouldn't allow a stay where all the claims are unexhausted. He also would require good cause be shown why the claims were not exhausted, not, as the majority indicated, good cause for the stay. And, besides, innocence is not a freestanding basis for habeas relief. Habeas is available to ensure there is no imprisonment in violation of the constitution, not to correct errors of fact, like a finding of guilt when the petitioner was actually innocent.