Glenarlow Wilson wins state Habeas and State appeals

Update: The State has appealed the grant of the habeas corpus petition. Several commenters (here and around the blogosphere) wonder why. The CNN article provides some clues:

In a written statement, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said he filed the appeal to resolve “clearly erroneous legal issues,” saying that while the judge did have the authority to grant habeas relief, he did not have the authority “to reduce or modify the judgment of the trial court.”

That’s exactly why I thought they were appealing (see comments below). I haven’t dealt with habeas trials where the claim raised was an 8th Amendment claim, so this particular remedy might be appropriate (maybe CDW has some input). However, in the context of your regular habeas petition claims, the remedy is usually to vacate the conviction and return the case to the trial docket. In the limited circumstance of breach of plea agreement (Santobello v. New York) claims, specific performance may be ordered by a court, but that clearly isn’t the case here.

In addition, I think the State doesn’t want to leave this opinion out there to serve as precedent for future habeas petitions.

Original: Glenarlow Wilson’s (previous coverage here) state petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was granted today, on the grounds that his sentence was “cruel and unusual” (he was sentenced to 1o years and life-time sex offender registration). The Habeas judge instead imposed a sentence of 12 months to serve.

Judge Wilson agreed the 10-year prison sentence “would be viewed by society as ‘cruel and unusual’ in the Constitutional sense of disproportionality.”

“The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor… and will spend eight more years in prison is a grave miscarriage of justice,” Wilson wrote in his order, which was released this morning.

“If any case fits into the definitive limits of a miscarriage of justice, surely this case does.”

Wilson added, “If this court, or any court, cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish… Justice being served in a fair and equal matter.”

While Wilson should be released within 48 hours, it is more likely than not that the released will be stayed pending an appeal by the State.

SL&P has more here and here.

7 thoughts on “Glenarlow Wilson wins state Habeas and State appeals

  1. Karoli


    CNN is reporting that the prosecutor filed for an appeal and a stay of his release from jail.

    Why are they so entrenched about this? Is common sense completely discarded in favor of law and order? Isn’t there a place for both?

  2. Gideon Post author

    Karoli, I wish I could answer that. I have had similar cases where the state has decided to pursue an appeal.

    The stay is automatic and pretty universal. The Connecticut Practice Book provides that there will be an automatic stay in criminal and non-criminal matters when an appeal is taken.

    I suspect the State is appealing the habeas court’s restructuring of the sentence. Typically, a habeas court cannot modify a sentence, but only vacate it. The only case in which a habeas court can impose a new sentence is if the claim was a breach of plea agreement.

    However, I have not personally dealt with 8th Amendment claims, so I have little idea of the ideal remedy in such cases.

  3. Gideon Post author

    [quote comment=”1969″]Gideon,

    Thanks for the clarification on that. it does make sense.[/quote]
    No problem. I’d still like to see the opinion and the notification of grounds for appeal to make up my mind, but that’s my best guess.

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