This Note assesses the need for specialized review in the federal circuit courts of noncapital habeas cases brought by state prisoners under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. It first argues that the complexity of federal habeas law, the substantial disuniformity between circuits, the conflicting visions proffered by the Warren Court’s habeas jurisprudence and Congress’s recent statutory enactments—together with the greatest stakes possible at issue, liberty—are all factors warranting the creation of a national court of appeals that would hear only habeas cases. Recognizing, however, that creating such a court is a low priority for Congress at best and simply unfeasible at worst, this Note also makes another recommendation for injecting specialized review into appellate adjudication. Specifically, the circuit courts’ use of line staff attorneys to screen petitions can be much improved by creating a career staff attorney position dedicated solely to review of noncapital § 2254 cases. A formal position will attract better candidates, have lower rates of turnover, and concentrate experience and expertise to the benefit of judges and litigants.
Jyoti Rani Jindal, Process Matters: Specialization in Federal Appellate Review of Noncapital Section 2254 Cases, 65 Duke L.J. 1055 (2016).
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol65/iss5/4