Skip to main content

Anders in Habeas

In Simon v. Gov’t of the Virgin Islands, No. 09-3616 (May 9, 2012), the Circuit held that an Anders brief may be filed in habeas corpus proceedings but that the Virgin Islands Appellate Division court erred in affirming the denial of post-conviction relief based on an inadequate Anders brief, where the lower court had described certain claims as “non-frivolous” and there wsa arguable merit to the appeal.


In this non-capital habeas case from the Virgin Islands, the Third Circuit addresses the question of whether Anders procedures apply in the habeas context. (Because this case is from the Virgin Islands, this case, unlike most habeas cases reviewed by the Third Circuit, is not governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254 or § 2241.) The Anders brief was filed on the appeal of Simon’s post-conviction petition in the Virgin Islands courts.

The Third Circuit holds that it is not error to apply Anders procedures in habeas, recognizing that there is no right to counsel in state post-conviction proceedings:

Anders procedures are meant to protect a defendant’s constitutional right to counsel. See Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551, 554-55 (1987). Because that right exists on direct appeal but not in collateral proceedings, Anders procedures are not required in the habeas context. See id. at 555, 557 (“Since respondent has no underlying constitutional right to appointed counsel in state post-conviction proceedings, she has no constitutional right to insist on the Anders procedures which were designed solely to protect that underlying constitutional right.”).

Because Anders procedures afford heightened protections, however, it is not erroneous to apply them in the habeas context. Indeed, Anders procedures afford the petitioner a more careful review of the merits of an appeal than might occur without an attorney or with a less than conscientious attorney. Applying Anders procedures in the habeas context does not deprive the petitioner of anything that he would be given in any other format. The Appellate Division did not, therefore, err by applying Anders procedures in the habeas context.

The opinion also holds that the Anders brief in this case was inadequate as a matter of law, and therefore reverses and remands. It was inadequate because there were issues of arguable merit including a Brady issue, and the trial court had indicated as much by filing a “certificate of probable cause” (similar to a COA) after denying relief. The court vacates and remands for full briefing on the merits.

Maria Pulzetti, EDPa



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Double Jeopardy Claim Falls Short on Deferential Habeas Review

In the habeas matter of Wilkerson v. Superintendent Fayette SCI, Nos. 15-1598 & 15-2673, the Third Circuit defers to a state court determination that the defendant’s conviction of both an attempted murder count and an aggravated assault count based on the same altercation did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause.
The evidence was that during the altercation, the defendant both struck the victim in the head with a gun and shot him in the chest. The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld consecutive sentences on the theory that the evidence was sufficient to permit a jury to find the striking to support one count and the shooting the other. Despite the jury instructions’ and verdict form’s failure to require each of these discrete findings, the Third Circuit holds that the state court’s reasoning was sound enough to withstand deferential review the AEDPA’s “clearly established Federal law” limitation. “[W]here the jury instructions were merely ambiguous and did not foreclose the jury…

Mailing Threatening Communications is a Crime of Violence and a Judicial Proposal for Reform of the Categorical Approach

In United States v. Chapman, __F.3d__, No. 16-1810, 2017 WL 3319287 (3d Cir. Aug. 4, 2017), the Third Circuit held that mailing a letter containing any threat to injure the recipient or another person in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(c) qualifies as a crime of violence for the purposes of the career offender enhancements of the Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 4B1.1(a).The Court acknowledged in a footnote that the analysis is the same for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 871, threats against the president.


The Court began its analysis by reviewing the definition of “crime of violence” and specifically the meaning of the words “use” and “physical force.”Quoting United States v. Castleman, 134 S. Ct. 1405 (2014), and Tran v. Gonzales, 414 F.3d 464 (3d Cir. 2005), it defined “use” as “the intentional employment of force, generally to obtain some end,” which conveys the notion that the thing used “has become the user’s instrument.” The Court confirmed the definition of “physical force” as “force ca…

A Traffic Stop Followed by a Summons is not an Intervening Arrest for Sentencing Guidelines Purposes

In United States v. Ley, __ F.3d __, 2017 WL 5618617 (3d Cir., Nov. 22, 2017), the Third Circuit held that a traffic stop, followed by the issuance of a summons, is not an intervening arrest for the purpose of calculating a defendant’s prior convictions under USSG § 4A1.2(a)(2).   Defendant John Francis Ley received two speeding tickets on two consecutive days.  After writing each ticket, the police released Ley and informed him that the matter would proceed via summons.  No arrest was made and Ley was sentenced for both matters on the same day. The District Court, however, held that the issuance of the summons constituted an intervening arrest for the purposes of the Guidelines and each ticket therefore merited an individual criminal history point.  Ley appealed.  Looking at the ordinary meaning of both “arrest” and “summons,” as well as the Supreme Court’s history of distinguishing arrests from other interactions with law enforcement, the Third Circuit, joining three other circuits …