What Is “New”?: Defining “New Judgement” After Magwood

Patrick Cothern*

Habeas corpus petitioners must navigate the procedural barriers of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) before courts consider their petitions on the merits. Among the barriers imposed is a general prohibition on “second or successive” habeas petitions, meaning a petitioner who previously filed a habeas petition may not bring another, with limited exceptions. One such exception, recognized by the Supreme Court in Magwood v. Patterson, allows for a second habeas petition after the petitioner obtains a “new judgment.” Magwood and AEDPA, however, left the term “new judgment” undefined. This Note summarizes the history of habeas corpus in the United States, the passage of AEDPA, and the Magwood decision. It contends that the interpretation of “new judgment” adopted by some circuits is impermissibly restrictive of the implied right to petition for habeas relief. Thus, it proposes a simplified interpretation: any judicial change to the original judgment renders a “new judgment,” achieving a better balance between the interests of the petitioner and the state.

*J.D. Candidate, May 2019, University of Michigan Law School. I would like to thank Professors David Moran, Imran Syed, Rebecca Hahn, and Megan Richardson, as well as my classmates in the Michigan Innocence Clinic, for broadly inspiring the topic of this Note. I would also like to thank my parents, my sisters, Jake Crammer, and Alexis Nail for supporting me throughout the writing process. Professor Eve Brensike Primus also offered very helpful advice and insight for which I am grateful. Finally, I would also like to thank my classmates and friends Christopher Schwartz, Michael Abrams, Sarah Mezera, and the rest of the members of the Michigan Law Review, who all offered beneficial feedback and assistance.

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