Beard v. Kindler
Habeas Corpus, Constitutional Law
After murdering a witness against him and receiving a sentence of death, respondent broke out of prison, twice. Prior to his recapture in Canada years later, the trial court exercised its discretion under state forfeiture law to dismiss respondent's post-verdict motions, resulting in default of most appellate claims. On federal habeas corpus review, the court of appeals refused to honor the state court's procedural bar, ruling that, because "the state court ... had discretion" in applying the rule, it was not "firmly established" and was therefore "inadequate." Is a state procedural rule automatically inadequate under the adequate-state grounds doctrine - and therefore unenforceable on federal habeas corpus review - because the state rule is discretionary rather than mandatory?
Matthew C. Lawry
Defender Association of Philadelphia
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