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Writs Appeal

An Ohio Criminal Appeals Attorney Explains Alternative Avenues to Appeal a State Conviction

I lost the appeal of my conviction. Is there any other remedy for my imprisonment if I believe my Federal rights were violated?

Yes. One remedy is to file a writ of habeas corpus. This procedure is the method by which a person imprisoned by the state can raise a claim of a denial of Federal rights.

Latin for “show the body,” a habeas petition is a collateral—or secondary—attack on a state conviction. Filing a writ of habeas corpus can be used to challenge any unconstitutional incarceration, house arrest, or involuntary admission to a hospital or mental health care facility.

Generally, filing a writ of habeas corpus allows a person convicted in state court the opportunity to have a federal court review the state court’s decision in your case – to see whether the state court violated your federal constitutional rights.

What can requesting a writ achieve?

A successful writ of habeas corpus can result in release from imprisonment. Another positive outcome could be a transfer to a different institution, such as from a jail to a hospital.

Who can request a writ?

In criminal cases, a defense attorney usually asks for writs when other forms of appeals are exhausted.

Can a writ only be requested after a basic appeal, a direct appeal, and a request for post-conviction relief?

No. Writs can be requested at any time after a criminal prosecution begins.

The purpose of seeking a court order in the form of a writ is to have a higher court consider issues a lower court can’t or won’t. For instance, if a trial court judge refuses to admit a piece of evidence that could prove a defendant’s innocence, the defendant’s lawyer can file a request for a writ of coram nobis, which means “error before us.” When the higher court grants the defense’s request in this instance, it orders the lower court to correct the mistake of excluding evidence that helps the defendant.

What goes into a petition for a writ?

The petition must specify what error or injustice occurred and the information necessary to support that claim. It also has to state what a court can do to correct the problem.

Getting help from a Columbus, OH, criminal appeals attorney when preparing a writ petition is highly recommended. The request must take certain forms and include precise information depending on what is being requested. An improperly prepared petition will not achieve the desired outcome.

Besides a writ of habeas corpus, what other types of writs can be requested on behalf of a defendant?

Four of the most common writs sought in criminal proceedings are the following:

  • Writ of prohibition — A court that lacks jurisdiction over certain issues in dispute can be ordered to cease all proceedings. In a criminal case, a writ of prohibition could be sought if a federal prosecution begins on a charge that is more properly conducted in state court.
  • Writ of quo warranto — This Latin phrase means “by the warrant.” One meaning of “warrant” is permission to act, so a writ of quo warranto pertains to the authority of a law enforcement officer or court official to do something. By asking for this type of writ, a criminal defense lawyer can receive permission to try to prove that a person working with the prosecution has no authority to be involved with a case.
  • Writ of mandamus — “Mandamus” is another word for mandate. When it issues a writ of mandamus, a court orders a public official to act only within the scope of their office. Such a writ compels a person to do something like disclose information or comply with an earlier order.
  • Writ of certiorari — A petition for certiorari (“to be informed of” in Latin) is a request for an appeals court to review all the information considered by a lower court, including trial transcripts, physical evidence, and depositions. After issuing this kind of writ, the higher court can hold a hearing and issue a final decision, order the lower court to retry the defendant, or take no action. If the appeals court takes no action on a writ of certiorari, the lower court’s decision stands.

As a criminal defense and appeals attorney in Columbus, Ohio, April Campbell knows how to prepare effective writ petitions. You can schedule a free consultation online or by calling (614) 356-8515.