Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal


Rubin "Hurricane" Carter died in the spring of 2014 at the age of seventy-six. He was a top middleweight boxing contender in the early 1960s, twice convicted of a triple homicide, but then freed by a federal court in 1985 after he served nineteen years in prison. This Article recalls his life, the homicide trials, and the constitutional issues that led to his release. The Article makes the point that had Rubin Carter's federal habeas corpus petition been adjudicated under current law, he would have remained behind bars. Congress enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in 1996. The Act greatly restricts a state court inmate's access to federal court review. Moreover, in recent years, the United States Supreme Court's application of the Act has made federal habeas corpus relief practically unattainable. The power of The Great Writ is in jeopardy. This Article suggests that a revitalization of meaningful habeas corpus relief would be an especially appropriate legacy for Rubin Carter.

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