From the April 2009 Idaho Observer:

"The writ of habeas corpus....shall not be [has been artfully] suspended [for many]"

What if a government created a law that, by the mere title, would indicate that they meant business: To control terror and murderous actions. But in reality, does none of the above?

Bill Clinton signed the Republican bill entitled the Anti-Terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) on the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing. That is an irony in itself.

When the lay person reads the title of the AEDPA, the intent seems quite obvious. It must be an effective means to get those darn terrorists (even though I only know of one—an American—who has been tried as a terrorist) and to make sure they are cemented into some federal prison. Also the lay person, reading "Effective Death Penalty" believes it certainly must mean what it says.

This bill was to speed up all court cases of CONVICTED terrorists: both appeals of terrorists and of capital murderers. These two classes of convicted persons have a specific deadline to have their appeals heard in federal court—or they will be barred.

However, if "terrorists" are already in federal court because of the very nature of their crime, how can they be barred? And, if virtually all capital murderers are constitutionally provided an attorney until they are legally murdered by the state or moved off death row, how would he/she be affected by AEDPA?

Well, hold on. This law has "and other purposes" attached to it, but I left off the last part of the title, because 99 percent of other persons also leave off the tail. Congress prescribed a uniform rule: "A One-year period of limitation shall apply to an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a person [AMERICAN!] in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court" (emphasis added), 28 USC, Sec. 2244 (d)(1), Day v. McDonough, 126 S. Ct 1675, 1680 n1 (2006)

The Supreme Court, in Bell v. Cone, 122 S. Ct 1843, 1849 (2002), and the federal court in Robertson v. Cain 324 F.3d 297, 306 (5th Cir. 2003) explain the true intent of this terrorism/death penalty law, which is to prevent federal habeas "retrials" and to ensure that the state-court convictions are given effect to the extent possible under the law (Bell, 1849), by limiting the scope of collateral review and raising the standard for habeas relief (Robertson 306).

Someone please write me and point out where terrorism plays a role in that intent? I can point where it cuts out two million Americans that are in state facilities. And oddly, the Supreme Court holds that a state defendant is constitutionally provided an appointed counsel only to the first appeal. In most states, there are two more appeals before the State’s habeas corpus. So even though the habeas corpus is written into the US Constitution, state defendants are not constitutionally afforded an appointed attorney.

Most attorneys charge about $5,000 per count to begin a habeas corpus writ; however, most inmates are indigent. The average inmate has an 8th to 10th grade education. The percentage of very low IQ inmates is rather high. So, a person that has no college education, little or no high school education and reading comprehension of 6th to 8th grade level has less than 12 months to learn the Rules of Court, State and Federal Constitutions and their Rules, Criminal Procedures, State, Federal and Supreme Court Rules and Precedence holdings—or be denied access to proceed in a habeas corpus proceeding in federal court by time limitations.

Until AEDPA took effect in 1996, NO statute of limitations applied to habeas petitions; Mayle v. Felix, 545 US 644, 125 S. Ct. 2562, 2571 (2005). Courts invoked the doctrine of "prejudicial debt" to screen out unreasonable late filings. Generally, one day late bars a state habeas petition. It is "unreasonably late."

The "terrorists" at Guantanamo, Cuba, have never been convicted, so their time limit has never begun. All persons (AKA terrorists) outside the boundaries of the "USSA" are not affected by this effective law. The person on death row has an appointed attorney, so he doesn’t get knocked out of federal courts, either.

"AEDPA’s one year period is a statute of limitations rather than a jurisdictional bar…" Smith v. McGinnis, 208 F.3d 13, 17 2d Cir. (2000). The rule treating statutes of limitations equivalent to procedural bars would accomplish the statutory purposes Congress sought to vindicate in AEDPA. Congress fashioned 28 USC, Sec. 2244 (d)(2) in order to provide a strong "incentive for [uneducated, insane, indigent] individuals to seek relief from the state [that drags its heels for months in] courts before filing [a day late] federal habeas petition," Duncan v. Walker 533 US 167 180 S. Ct. 2120, 2128 (2001).

Most offenders—and some courts—have difficulty determining when the one-year date begins. The primary concern in filing a petition of habeas corpus is the date on which the statute of limitations under AEDPA begins to run. The statutory period begins on "the date which the factual predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence," 28 USC, Sec. 2244 (d)(1)(D).

So, Public Law No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (April 24, 1996), as written by Republicans and signed by the Democrat president, effectively "for other purposes" amended the substantive standards for American citizens or others being granted access to equitable relief to courts guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

To help some grasp the true intent, I’ll say that, for example, the entire population of Idaho and Alaska are statutorily barred from their constitutional rights to be heard in federal court. Or, all of Nevada and New Hampshire have no access to redress grievances.

The American citizen—or rather, the state citizen—is barred to enter federal courts. He or she is no longer recognized.

The terrorist and death row inmate are appointed attorneys to the end. Constitutionally this is the Court’s holding. The normal convicted person only gets the minimal, despite the Fourteenth Amendment which reads, "…nor deny to any person the equal protection of the laws."

How is this equal when some person from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, China or Mexico has unfettered access to federal courts or the Supreme Court when Americans are denied access because they are Americans?

How is it that Mahachba Rhashadi has an attorney or a group of attorneys, while I and at least two million other Americans have to fend for ourselves and live behind bars in constant frustration?

Hal V. Parfait

Beaumont TX