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Showing posts from October, 2005

Batson, habeas, and the “McMahon videotape.”

The Circuit Court, in Wilson v. Beard, No. 04-2461 (3d Cir. Oct. 13, 2005), affirmed a lower court’s grant of habeas relief to a petitioner convicted of murder 21 years ago. In doing so, the court touches on a number of intriguing issues concerning both Batson and timeliness under 2244. Most notable is the petitioner’s success under Batson relying largely upon the notorious "McMahon videotape." First however, the court tackles some issues pertaining to timeliness under 2244.

The petitioner, Zachary Wilson, was convicted of first degree murder in 1984, two years before the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). The prosecutor in Wilson’s case was Jack McMahon, an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia. In 1988, Wilson unsuccessfully sought post-conviction relief (PCRA) in PA. The PA Supreme Court denied review of his case in 1996. On about April 1, 1997, a videotape of McMahon was released in which McMahon gave a training session on j…