March 30, 2017

Pro Bono

This Court’s review is required not to correct a gross deprivation of due process in Alabama’s capital post-conviction review proceedings. Alabama is not required to provide post-conviction review for the vindication of federal rights. Having chosen to do so, however, the State must comply with basic principles of due process. A state may not present merely the mirage of a judicial process. If the State does not believe Daniel’s allegations are true, it may put him to his proof and challenge them in court. But the State, and especially its courts, may not simply pretend those allegations do not exist, ignore the settled law establishing that if those allegations are true the petitioner is entitled to relief, and slam the courthouse door shut. Due process requires that Daniel be given an opportunity through discovery and an evidentiary hearing to prove his claim.

The federal system of post-conviction review is built on the assumption that states will provide basic due process in their post-conviction processes. Federal post-conviction review requires that Daniel exhaust his state remedies. 28 section 2254(b)(a)(Q). Federal law further expects that a petitioner will have developed the evidence for his claims for post-conviction relief in state post-conviction proceedings. 28 U.S.C. section 2254(e)(2). Congress’s policy favors relieving the federal courts of the burdens of developing and sorting out the facts of claims for post-conviction relief from state criminal judgments. Alabama’s sham post-conviction process in this case if allowed to stand, will place those burdens squarely upon the federal courts in Alabama.

This Court should grant review here to ensure that the judicial process of administering the death penalty in all of the United States satisfies the most basic notions of due process: an opportunity to have one’s claim heard and allegations evaluated, not ignored. Such a ruling would restore the proper balance between state and federal court post-conviction review of federal constitutional challenges to state criminal convictions.

Please click here Daniel v. Alabama to read the entire petition.