Author: Federal Public Defender, CDCA

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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If you were convicted in state court, you have an automatic right to an appeal in the state court of appeal. You have a right to appointed counsel, and the state court will consider any issues raised by you and your attorney. When you file a federal habeas petition, you may only raise issues related to constitutional violations, and you have no right to the assistance of counsel...

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A 2255 petition may be filed by a person in federal custody to challenge a federal criminal conviction and/or sentence.  Unlike a 2254 petition, which challenges a state-court conviction and/or sentence, a 2255 petition is not limited to federal constitutional claims.  28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides that it may be used to raise claims that your sentence or conviction was unauthorized under any law of the United States...

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The petition may be filed on the form provided by the District Court. Copies of the form and instructions for filing can be obtained from the District Court’s website here.  The petition should be filed in the court of conviction...

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Yes, you have very little time to prepare your federal habeas petition. Generally, a 2255 federal habeas petition must be filed within a year after your federal conviction became final.  A federal conviction usually becomes final (1) on the date the United States Supreme Court denies a petition for writ of certiorari; or (2) if United States Supreme Court review is not sought, 90 days after the federal court of appeals issues its decision or denies rehearing.  Although there are some ways to toll the […]..

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Federal court is more formal than most state courts.  Suits, ties, and other formal wear are not necessary, but shorts, halters, tank tops, any clothing exposing the midriff or underclothing, beachwear, flip-flops, pool shoes, or t-shirts with inappropriate graphics or wording are not recommended...

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