Page 243 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 to recognize what constitutes, and then to appoint, qualified federal capital habeas counsel...or to make appointments of counsel at the earliest possible moment a case enters post-conviction proceedings.”937
Delay can lead to severe consequences. There is no reliable mechanism for extending the statute of limitations; if counsel is only appointed after a three-month delay, that is three months lost for the petitioner to have claims investigated and supported in the subsequent habeas petition. A federal habeas petition is usually the last opportunity a person sentenced to death may have to raise legal and fac- tual claims that could negate that sentence. Therefore, “any exhausted issue that has potential merit must be included in the petition, and any previously unexhausted, unavailable, or unknown factual/legal issue must be the subject of investigation, development, and litigation”938 in order to determine if it has merit. Given the stat- ute of limitations, timeliness is of the essence. Within that one year:
ffA defense team must be identified, recommended, and appointed;
ffCounsel must learn the existing record, which in federal cases is extensive;
ffThe team must meet and develop a rapport with the client;
ffCounsel must begin to assess avenues for investigation;
ffCounsel must determine preliminary funding needs;
ffAppropriate expert and investigative resources must be secured;
ffRecords not collected by trial counsel must be obtained and reviewed;
ffA thorough fact investigation must be undertaken;
ffA thorough mitigation investigation must be undertaken;
ffPost-conviction claims must be identified;
ffCounsel must prepare and litigate necessary pleadings; and
ffA § 2255 [or § 2254] motion with all applicable claims and sufficient factual support must be filed.939
As noted above, the Resource Counsel’s main focus, as part of the Federal Capital Habeas § 2255 Project, is to recruit qualified counsel and assist judges and their staff on issues related to capital § 2255 representation, including identifying qualified counsel. The Model CJA Plan adopted by the JCUS recommends that judges consult with the local federal defender, who can consult with other offices and proj- ects to assist with the appointment of habeas representation. This, however, is not a
937 RuthFriedman,Director,FederalCapitalHabeasProject,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala., Panel 3, Writ. Test., at 5.
938 RichardBurr,TexasRegionalHabeasandAssistanceProject,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala., Panel 3, Writ. Test., at 1.
939 RuthFriedman,Director,FederalCapitalHabeasProject,PublicHearing—Birmingham,Ala., Panel 3, Writ. Test., at 3.
No recommendation presented herein represents
the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United 2 0 1 7 R E P O R T O F T H E A D H O C C O M M I T T E E T O R E V I E W T H E C R I M I N A L J U S T I C E A C T 199
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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