Now and again, I find stories about interesting habeas cases from outside New York. There were a couple this week, so I thought I'd do a quick post with the links.
First, there was a really interesting habeas grant out of Wisconsin in an unusual crime for a habeas petition -- a drunk driving conviction. It concerns whether petitioner was denied his right to present a defense when the trial court excluded evidence of an initial on-the-scene breathalizer test. In Wisconsin, there is a state law that says that these tests are inadmissible. The federal court concluded that it was objectively unreasonable for the state courts to follow this rule and not allow petitioner to present this evidence, which he says would show that he was not yet drunk when he was caught driving. Notably, the federal judge accused the Wisconsin Supreme Court of just making things up as they went along.
Second, I really liked this headline out of Alabama: "No plans to track freed killer". The petitioner had been accused of murder but found not guilty by reasons of insanity. After several years in a mental hospital, he was no longer showing signs of mental illness. But he was not released. He filed a habeas petition and was granted relief. And, as the headline warns, Alabama is not going to track him. I am not sure what would give a State the right to "track" someone in this situation. Do States typically keep track of patients released from mental institutions? I actually mean that seriously because I don't know the answer. In any event, I will say that the really big picture of the freed patient in the article is just a bit creepy.
Third, don't forget that the Troy Davis case is still going. Davis is now appealing the district court denial to the Eleventh Circuit. Here's an article about it at Africana Online. And there was an interesting take on Troy Davis on Huffington Post written by Etan Thomas, the NBA player, and Dave Zirin, a sportswriter