One of CHU’s primary responsibilities is representing Arizona capital defendants in federal habeas corpus proceedings. Habeas corpus allows defendants to challenge a conviction or sentence when it violates the United States Constitution. Habeas corpus petitions must comply with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), a complex body of federal law that says how and when defendants must file their petitions, what issues they may raise, and the standard of proof they must meet to obtain relief. Generally speaking, Arizona defendants have one year to file their petitions, beginning on the date the Arizona Supreme Court denies their post-conviction petition for review.
When Congress passed the AEDPA in 1996, it included a section that allowed states to “opt-in” to stricter habeas rules by meeting certain requirements. For a state to qualify for opt-in status, the U.S. Department of Justice must certify that the state’s post-conviction rules guarantee that defendants have timely appointed, adequately compensated post-conviction attorneys, as well as reasonable funds for those attorneys to investigate and litigate the defendants’ cases. Under opt-in habeas rules, defendants would have half as much time to file their petitions, and those petitions would be subject to stricter procedural rules that may make it harder to obtain relief for constitutional violations that occurred in state court.
For the past several years, Arizona has been trying to qualify for these opt-in provisions. In 2013, the Arizona Attorney General asked the Department of Justice to certify Arizona as an opt-in state. CHU opposed that request, submitting 163-page document outlining the many ways Arizona’s post-conviction rules do not satisfy the opt-in requirements or protect defendant's constitutional rights.
Unfortunately, on April 14, 2020, the United States Attorney General certified Arizona as the only opt-in state in the country. CHU is currently fighting in federal court to show that Arizona should not qualify as an opt-in state and that the certification process itself was not transparent and violated federal law. The legal briefs filed by CHU and various groups that support CHU’s arguments (amici), as well as the Department of Justice’s response, can be found in the links below.
Petition for Review
Initial Opening Brief for Petitioners
Amicus ABA Brief ISO Petitioners
Amicus ACRP Brief ISO Petitioners
Amicus AEFCP Brief ISO Petitioners
Amicus CHUs Brief ISO Petitioners
Amicus Former Federal Judges Brief ISO Petitioners
Amicus Honorable Russell D. Feingold Brief ISO Petitioners
Amicus Innocence Network and SCHR Brief ISO Petitioners
Amicus POAL Brief ISO Petitioners
Initial Response Brief for Respondents
Brief of Intervenor State of Arizona
Petitioners Initial Reply Brief
Order Scheduling Oral Argument
Motion to Postpone Oral Argument by Respondents
Response to Motion to Postpone Oral Argument by State of Arizona
Order Granting Motion to Postpone Oral Argument
Respondent's Motion for Voluntary Remand
Intervenor's Opposition to Motion for Voluntary Remand
Per Curiam Order that Case be Remanded to DOJ
Mandate Issued to DOJ
DOJ Letter to Arizona Requesting Additional Information