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6th Amendment Right to a Public Trial

New Rochelle, NY |

The US Supreme Court recently came down with a decision that vacated a life sentence on an individual based on the fact that the District Judge in the case barred family members from being present in the voir dire stage of jury selection. (Presley v. Georgia) My friend is doing life in prison, and the Judge in his case cleared the courtroom of all of the public during jury selection, including family members and press. Now the conviction is 20 years old. Since his attorney DID OBJECT to the jury selection proceeding without public, is there habeas maneuverability, even though this wasn't raised on Direct Appeal


Attorney Answers 1


This message is intended for informational purposes only.

You sound well schooled in habeas law, so I am sure I am not surprising you by saying that it is POSSIBLE that there may be, as you put it, "maneuverability." It would require that the facts in your friend's case lined up with those of Presley (I am ashamed to say that, although I know the attorneys who did such an excellent job in winning that case, I have not read the full opinion in Presley) and that your friend would be able to argue that its ruling essentially establishes new law. If your friend can do these two things, he has a year from the date Presley was issued to file an action in Federal court where he was convicted.

Your friend's best move is to speak in more depth with an attorney who is familiar with post-conviction and habeas law and can fill him in on the in's and out's of the process, but I do not think you are crazy for wanting to investigate this matter further.

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