April 2012 Vol. 110 No. 6 THE REVIEW

A Crisis in Federal Habeas Law

Eve Brensike Primus

 

Everyone recognizes that federal habeas doctrine is a mess. Despite repeated calls for reform, federal judges continue to waste countless hours reviewing habeas petitions only to dismiss the vast majority of them on procedural grounds. Broad change is necessary, but to be effective, such change must be animated by an overarching theory that explains when federal courts should exercise habeas jurisdiction. In Habeas for the Twenty-First Century: Uses, Abuses, and the Future of the Great Writ, Professors Nancy King and Joseph Hoffmann offer such a theory. Drawing on history, current practice, and empirical data, King and Hoffmann find unifying themes that not only explain our past use of the Great Writ but also give guidance regarding how we should interpret the writ going forward.

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