Civil Liberties

Ninth Circuit Panel: Innocence, Schminnocence. We Have Rules, You Know.

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A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected an Oregon man's petition for habeas corpus relief (PDF). This despite acknowledging that the man has established actual innocence for the crimes for which he's being imprisoned (sexual abuse and sodomy of a four-year-old). The reason: He was late filing his petition. By the panel's reckoning, adherence to an arbitrary deadline created by legislators is a higher value than not continuing to imprison people we know to be innocent.

New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield comments:

…in the rare case where a defendant can prove that he did not commit the crime, but the information or evidence doesn't manage to come into his hands until more than a year after the exhaustion of remedies, even if the cause is concealment by the government or incompetence by his lawyer, the 9th Circuit told us their truth.  They don't care.  They just don't care.