Fantastic Victory in a Federal Habeas Case for Advanced Criminal Defense Clinic Student Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman ’14 (pictured here) returned to the Advanced Criminal Defense Clinic last quarter to represent a CDC client serving 30 years to life under California’s three strikes law. The client is challenging his conviction and sentence for robbery in a federal habeas petition. Mark worked with Clinical Supervising Attorney Galia Phillips to draft an opposition to the Attorney General’s motion to dismiss the client’s habeas petition for failure to exhaust state remedies. The Attorney General argued that because our client failed to present his arguments to the California Supreme Court, he had not exhausted his claim and could not present any arguments in federal court. Mark was able to show that the client had tried to file both a Petition for Review and an Application for Relief from Default in the California Supreme Court but was unable to timely do so because, among other things, he did not receive notice of the need to file an Application for Relief from Default until after the deadline for filing one had already passed. Judge Illston, of the Northern District of California, agreed with the clinic’s arguments and denied the Motion to Dismiss, finding that under the unique circumstances of this case, our client had complied with the exhaustion requirement. This is a crucial victory as it allows us to keep fighting for a chance to have a federal court address on the merits the substantial violations of our client’s constitutional rights.