10.30.2008

Split Over Whether "Actual Innocence" Exception is Available to those who were Erroneously Sentenced as Habitual Offenders Remains Unresolved

Per Harper v. Hubert, 2008 WL 4534097 (E.D. La. Oct 07, 2008):


In Haley v. Cockrell, 306 F.3d 257 (5th Cir.2002), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, after noting that a split exists among the circuits on that issue, held that the "actual innocence" exception is available to petitioners in noncapital proceedings who claim they were erroneously sentenced as habitual or multiple offenders. Id. at 265-66. However, the Haley court held that, when barred claims dealt with such alleged sentencing errors, the "actual innocence" requirement is met only when the petitioner shows that "he would have not been legally eligible for the sentence he received." Id. at 264. The Supreme Court subsequently vacated the Haley decision on other grounds and remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit. Dretke v. Haley, 541 U.S. 386 (2004). In so doing, the Supreme Court declined to answer the question of whether the "actual innocence" exception applies to noncapital sentencing errors. Id. at 393-94.

This Court does not attempt to answer the question left open by the Supreme Court. . . .

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