Federal Judges Say California Supreme Court is Jeopardizing Constitutional Rights

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Jay S. Bybee, a George W. Bush appointee, and Stephen Reinhardt, appointed by President Carter, are expressing their frustrations in a California Supreme Court ruling that would allow a state prisoner to challenge his detention in federal court. The case, Freddy Curial v. California dealt with legal deadlines, and the appellate panel on the 9th Circuit found itself having to deduce why the state’s supreme court rejected the prisoner’s habeas corpus filing. In that case, the prisoner was sentenced to life without parole. The lower state court rejected his petition for habeas corpus due to a procedural technicality- a missed legal deadline. His rejection, written by state judge, did not even state the reason why the petition was denied.   

It is reported that the state Supreme Court system is overwhelmed by legal challenges from inmates each year, and ends up deciding most of the cases with one paragraph summary rulings citing almost no legal authority. This frustrates the federal judges from the federal court system who have to later review them. However, to complicate things even more, recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have held that federal courts must defer to state judges except for limited circumstances.

The Court System and the California Appeals Procedure Explained

California’s court system is the largest in the nation and serves 12% of our population- approximately 38 million people. The vast majority of cases in the California courts begin in one of the 58 superior, or trial, courts within the state’s counties (ie. San Diego county). These courts are responsible for everything from hearing traffic infractions to civil and criminal cases.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the California Courts of Appeal. In the criminal law context, an appeal is not a new trial.  It is rather, a limited review of the same evidence and case by a higher court to determine if there were legal errors that substantially affected the rights of either party. However, if you are appealing a federal conviction, you will need to file your notice of appeal with the ninth circuit. Beyond the ninth circuit, you can file for certiorari for the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the nation (although Supreme Court justices may decide whether or not they can take a case). For non-federal crimes, appeals typically go through the courts of appeal, and if appropriate, the California Supreme Court.

Chula Vista Appeals and Criminal Trials Lawyer

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje will defend your constitutional rights and freedom with zeal and expertise. We are well versed in trial and the rules of the court. Often times, people do not realize that even if they have a guilty verdict, that is not the end all, be all. Sometimes there are opportunities to appeal, and Mr. Boertje is here to help keep you out of jail. If you have been arrested for a crime, do not hesitate to contact attorney David Boertje today. First consultations are free and confidential.