Author: Federal Public Defender, CDCA

A material witness is a person whose testimony is material to a criminal proceeding, and where it appears from an affidavit filed by a party that this person’s presence for testimony cannot be secured by a subpoena. A judge can order the person arrested, but also order that s/he be released from custody if certain conditions are met. 18 USC section 3144...

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Yes. The Federal Public Defender’s Office typically is appointed to represent indigent material witnesses...

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The material witness will be brought to court for a bail hearing. The material witness typically will be released after posting an unsecured bond filed by a third party. Typically, the bond is set at $5,000.  There are unusual situations, however, when material witnesses are not released on bond, or are released under more strict conditions...

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Typically, they are held in the Santa Ana Jail, located at 62 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana CA 92701. You can contact the Santa Ana Jail at (714) 245-8100...

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A person who is in custody under a state court judgment may challenge his or her conviction in federal court on the ground that there was a violation of his or her federal constitutional rights. It is called a 2254 petition because the statute governing federal habeas petitions challenging state court judgments is 28 U.S.C. section 2254...

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If you file a 2254 petition in the Central District of California, it is assigned to both a magistrate judge and a district court judge. The magistrate judge is responsible for the preliminary litigation. Because the magistrate judge does not have the legal authority to issue a final order, the magistrate judge will issue a report and recommendation to the district court judge. The district court judge can either adopt the magistrate judge’s recommendation or issue his or her own order...

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File your petition on the form provided by the district court (click here for the form). Copies of the form and instructions for filing can be obtained from the district court’s website...

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A 2254 petition must be filed in the federal district court that has jurisdiction over the county where the conviction occurred. The United States District Court for the Central District of California has jurisdiction over Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties...

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Only issues related to federal constitutional violations (with the exception of Fourth Amendment claims) may be raised in a 2254 petition. The federal court will not consider issues based solely on state law. Also, the federal court cannot consider any claims that were not first presented to the highest state court. You must exhaust all of your state court remedies first...

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Our office cannot represent 2254 habeas petitioners in non-capital cases unless and until we are appointed to the case by the district court.  In capital cases, you are entitled to court-appointed counsel, and an attorney from the Federal Public Defender’s Office or the CJA habeas panel will be appointed to represent you...

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