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Two Unanimous Sixth Circuit Habeas Decisions:

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued two unanimous opinions in habeas cases.

In Durr v. Mitchell, the Court considered and rejected death row inmate Darryl Durr's appeal of the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. An Ohio jury had sentenced Durr to death for the 1988 rape, kidnapping and murder of Angel Vincent O'Nan. Judge Suhrheinrich wrote for the panel, and Judge Cole wrote a separate concurring opinion.

In Bachman v. Bagley, another panel affirmed the district court's conclusion that Ronald Dale Bachman's habeas petition was untimely. Bachman, who was convicted in 1995 on multiple charges of rape and related crimes for the repeated sexual assault of his own daughter, had argued unsuccessfully that his designation as a "sexual predator" in 2004 should reopen the statute of limitations to challenge his original conviction.

There was not nearly so much unanimity in United States v. Arnold, in which a divided Sixth Circuit, sitting en banc, divided over Joseph Arnold's felon-in-possession of a firearm conviction. Judge Sutton wrote the opinion for the court upholding the conviction, joined by Chief Judge Boggs and Judges Batchelder, Daughtery, Rogers, Cook, and McKeague. Judges Clay and Griffin each authored opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part. Judge Moore dissented, joined by Judges Martin, Cole, and Gilman.

Dave N (mail):
Of the three cases, an interesting note for Durr is that the passage of AEDPA (and his filing a petition shortly after the law's passage) had a direct role in the Court's refusal to grant habeas relief for the rape conviction. He does seem like a pretty vile person--but then so is the "best friend" of the victim who did nothing to save her.

Bachman seems fairly straightforward--and it makes sense that the statute of limitations did not restart just because he had subsequently been classified as a "sexual predator"

Finally, the most curious thing about Arnold is that this was a federal prosecution, even though there appear to be no federal actors involved in the initial crime. Why Arnold was prosecuted in federal as opposed to state court is a mystery.
5.19.2007 1:24pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
"Finally, the most curious thing about Arnold is that this was a federal prosecution, even though there appear to be no federal actors involved in the initial crime. Why Arnold was prosecuted in federal as opposed to state court is a mystery."

A reasonable inference (grin) would be that local police "dropped the dime" to ATFE. It may have been one of those "Operation Triggerlock" areas, or perhaps the locals knew that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines would yield a lot more time.
5.19.2007 3:02pm
Dave N (mail):
Probably so. I am not sure how the feds would even know about the case otherwise.
5.19.2007 3:19pm
Matt W:
The feds love playing politics with the guns. They go looking for those cases. I had one where the local cops didn't even arrest the guy because they knew he was carrying to defend himself from someone who had allready shot him twice. He's doing fed time now.
5.19.2007 7:03pm
Dave N (mail):
A final thought on Bachman and why the 6th Circuit got it right. Had the court gone the other way, then any time a conviction was used in the future (as part of an enhancement, for example), then arguably the statute of limitations would start to run again, too.

The statute of limitations has a salutory effect of promoting finality. A decision in Bachman going the other way would have gone against that lauditory goal.
5.20.2007 3:19pm