Justices Make It Easier for Inmates to Challenge Convictions


Adam Liptak
The New York Times
May 29, 2013

In a pair of 5-to-4 decisions that divided along ideological lines, the Supreme Court on Tuesday made it easier for inmates to challenge their convictions.

In McQuiggin v. Perkins, No. 12-126, the majority said a one-year filing deadline for prisoners seeking federal review of their state court convictions under a 1996 law may be relaxed if they present compelling evidence of their innocence. The new “miscarriage of justice exception” to the deadline, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority, “applies to a severely confined category” — cases in which no reasonable juror aware of the new evidence would have voted to convict the defendant.

The decision did not seem likely to help the prisoner whose case was under review, but the exception it announced drew a barbed dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, who called the majority opinion “a series of transparent non sequiturs” and “a flagrant breach of the separation of powers.”

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