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Name: In re Reno
Case #: S124660
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/30/2012

Appellate attorneys engaged in abusive writ practice by filing a second habeas petition that was untimely and 521 pages long. The Supreme Court issued an order to show cause in this capital appeal to address the issue of “exhaustion petitions,” which purport to exhaust state claims in order to raise issues in federal court. This case involved a second habeas petition, over 500 pages long, raising 143 separate claims. Nearly all of the claims raised legal issues that were not cognizable or were procedurally barred. The Supreme Court held that in raising claims already adjudicated by the court, and in raising new claims with no serious attempt to justify why such claims were not raised on appeal or in petitioner’s first habeas petition, the petition exemplified abusive writ practice. Although the court declined to impose financial sanctions on counsel in this case, it warned that it remains an option in future cases. The court directed that in future cases, an initial habeas corpus petition has no limit as to length, but second and subsequent petitions are limited to 50 pages subject to a good cause exception. The court also adopted measures to streamline the petitions, such as allowing claims raised previously to be incorporated by reference and presenting unexhausted claims by way of a table or chart. Additionally, the court discussed a number of procedural rules applicable in habeas proceedings including (1) timeliness; (2) the Waltreus rule (legal claims previously raised and rejected on direct appeal ordinarily cannot be reraised in a collateral attack); (3) the Dixon rule (litigant not entitled to raise an issue on habeas corpus after having failed to raise the same issue on direct appeal); (4) the Miller rule (habeas petition based on same grounds as those in previously denied petition will be denied when there has been no change in the facts or law substantially affecting the rights of the petitioner); (5) the Clark/Horowitz rule (court will not consider newly presented grounds for relief that were known to the petitioner at the time of a prior collateral attack); (6) the Lindley rule (insufficiency of evidence claims are not cognizable in habeas proceedings); and (7) the Lessard/Sterling rule (Fourth Amendment claims not cognizable in habeas proceedings).