Defending Convicts

The Telegraph has a good article on a program at Mercer Law School that gets law students involved in habeas corpus appeals for inmates. Thus far they are on a 10 to 3 winning streak.

I did not know Georgia does not provide attorneys to assist prisoners with these. Hey, at least this gives something for the law students to do instead of “studying for the bar.”


  1. OleDirtyBarrister says:

    Habeas proceedings are deemed civil in nature, and thus, there is no constitutional mandates. There is no mandate for govt funded counsel for appeals either. In some federal circuits, where petitions for HC tend to be more effective, there are certain issues that can’t be raised on direct appeal and must be pursued Petitition for HC. A number of HC cases that went before SCOTUS, such as Lonechar, have made HC more difficult for prinsoners. It’s highly technical.

    The 11th Circuit has full time clerks/staff attorneys that are dedicated to pro se HC matters. Some of the funniest stuff you will ever see in law are Pro Se (Sometimes “Pro Per”) petitions.

  2. OleDirtyBarrister says:

    I meant to add that the program that I believe is better is the Georgia Innonce Project. The national IP was founded by OJ lawyer Barry Scheck (sp?).

  3. Jen says:

    “There is no mandate for govt funded counsel for appeals either.”

    Actually, you are entitled to a lawyer for your first bite appeal – appealing your conviction / guilty plea to the Court of Appeals. But you’re not entitled to anything over that, like applying for cert to the Supreme Court or Habeas proceedings.

  4. The Comma Guy says:

    Just wait for the first unhappy inmate to file a civil suit against Mercer, the professor, and the students or a bar complaint. Sadly, it will happen at some point.

    One of the cases they are working on is trying to get Joshua Ray Widner relief. You might not remember that name, but Widner’s case is the one that the Georgia Supreme Court had to practically overrule to spring Genarlow Wilson.

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