Thursday, November 10, 2011

No stay of execution for Reginald Brooks

Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit denied a stay of execution for Reginald Brooks. You can find their opinion here.

Those of you who do capital habeas work will recognize the ruling as a fairly standard walk through 60(b)(6) issues. Those of you who, like me, are unfamiliar with capital habeas work should give it a look just to get a succinct description of the standards for stays of execution and review of habeas petitions in cases where a habeas petition has previously been filed and ruled upon.

What it all boils down to is this: a petition needs to be timely. It cannot relitigate issues already decided ("law of the case"). 60(b) is used to correct procedural errors in the appeal, not litigate the merits of the appeal. Ineffective assistance of habeas counsel cannot be raised in a 60(b) petition.

Props to Alan Rossman of the Federal Defender in Cleveland, Ohio, and Michael Benza for their continued efforts to keep Mr. Brooks alive.

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