Jensen v. Pollard

Brace yourself for a habeas head-scratcher. In 2008, Kenosha County, Wisc. husband is convicted in state court of murdering his wife. But at trial, the court admitted a “voice from the grave” letter in which wife wrote that she feared her husband would kill her. Seventh Circuit (2015): Which was a very wrong application of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. District court (2015): So within 90 days, the state must either “initiate[] proceedings to retry” the husband or set him free. State court: Proceedings initiated. But wait! Intervening Supreme Court decisions have clarified that wife’s letter is admissible after all. So since there’s no point in holding a new trial, conviction reinstated. Seventh Circuit (2019): Technically, the state “initiate[d] proceedings to retry” the husband, which is all the federal district court required of it. So as far as appeals go, it’s back to square one for the husband.

Tags: 2019, Confrontation Clause, Evidence, Habeas Corpus, Seventh Circuit, Sixth Amendment

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