Appealing The Denial Of A 6500 And 2254
Understanding The Appeal Process For Denials Of 6500 And 2254 Motions
If a post-appeal collateral attack (also known as a state 6500 motion) is denied, it’s important to understand that the appeal process isn’t automatic. While you do have the ability to file an appeal following a trial court’s denial of a 6500 motion, it’s not an appeal by right. You need to request permission from the Court of Appeals by filing an application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
If Michigan’s Court of Appeals denies that application or grants it but then denies the appeal, you can take your case to the Michigan Supreme Court. However, again, it’s not an automatic right to appeal. Instead, you again must file an application for leave to appeal to ask the Michigan Supreme Court for permission to file an appeal on a denial of a 6500 Motion from the Michigan Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.
When appealing a post-conviction collateral attack in federal court, also known as a habeas corpus petition filed under 28 United States Code 2254, an automatic appellate right is also not available. To appeal a federal district court judge’s denial of a federal habeas corpus, the Petitioner must first secure a Certificate of Appealability.
This certificate is an order from the district court, indicating that even though the court ruled one way, it acknowledges that reasonable minds could disagree on the decision. As a result, the judge issues a Certificate of Appealability, signaling that the defendant should be permitted to appeal the denial of the habeas corpus petition.
If the district court judge does not rule (one way or the other) on the Certificate of Appealability, then the petitioner can file a motion before that judge requesting its issuance. If the district court denies the Certificate of Appealability, or includes a denial in their original habeas corpus petition denial, the federal habeas corpus petitioner can then attempt secure the Certificate from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the Petitioner cannot directly file an appeal there. Instead, they must request a Certificate of Appealability from the Sixth Circuit, essentially arguing that, despite the District Court judge’s decision, reasonable judicial minds could disagree on the outcome.
If a Certificate of Appealability is granted by either the District Court judge or the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the defendant then has the opportunity to appeal the substance of the 2254 denial to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, without that Certificate of Appealability, the substance of the habeas petition denial cannot be appealed.
The Purpose And Issues Raised In A Post-Appeal Collateral Attack On A Conviction
A 6500 post-appeal collateral attack on a conviction serves a specific purpose: to provide a defendant with an opportunity to rectify a significant procedural flaw in their conviction, ensuring justice is achieved. In essence, if a significant flaw occurred during the trial that led to the conviction, and this flaw wasn’t addressed or rectified during the appeal, this statutory court rule offers a pathway for the defendant to challenge the conviction, essentially offering a final chance at legal relief.
However, it’s equally important to clarify what a post-appeal collateral attack under 6500 is not – it is not a second chance to litigate issues that have already been ruled upon in the direct appeal. The most common problem with a 6500 Motion or a post-appeal collateral attack is an attempt to re-litigate an issue fully briefed and ruled on during the direct appeal, which almost inevitably results in the failure of a post-conviction 6500 Motion.
Possible Issues Raised In A Post-Appeal Collateral Attack
The critical factor here is that the issues raised should be new, i.e., not raised in the direct appeal. If they were raised in the direct appeal, there must be a specific reason permitting the defendant to re-raise them in a 6500 Motion. For instance, if an issue wasn’t taken to the Michigan Supreme Court during the direct appeal, the defendant can plead and show ineffective assistance of counsel for not having raised that issue in an application for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The most common types of issues in a post-appeal collateral attack generally fall into two semi-related categories. Despite seeking legal relief based on legal arguments, a strategically effective 6500 Motion or a habeas corpus petition often focuses on factual arguments and issues that fall into one of two related categories:
- (A) An argument, backed by facts and evidence, that raises serious questions about the defendant’s factual innocence. In other words, it’s not merely a hyper-technical legal argument but rather a challenge to the defendant’s guilt; or
- (B) An issue that fundamentally questions the procedure leading to the defendant’s conviction, suggesting the procedure was so fundamentally flawed that the conviction itself is called into question. For example, if a critical witness didn’t appear at the trial and a judge allowed their prior testimony to be read into the record, or if there’s evidence showing that the defendant’s lawyer was inadequately prepared, these situations could indicate a severe flaw in the trial procedure.
However, a mere legal challenge based on a hyper-technical legal issue typically makes a weak argument in a post-appeal collateral attack.