NEWS (4/13/20) — Washington, D.C.: U.S. Attorney General William Barr has issued a regulatory order, retroactive to 1998, certifying the state of Arizona as an “opt-in” state under the federal habeas corpus statute. The opt-in provision of the habeas corpus law rewards states that are deemed to provide adequate state-court representation of death-row prisoners by shortening the time period for bringing federal challenges to capital convictions and death sentences from one year to six months and limiting the issues that death-row prisoners may present in their federal appeals.

The opt-in law requires prisoners who appeal certification decisions to bring that challenge in federal court in Washington, D.C. Lawyers for the prisoners have indicated that they will be appealing the Department of Justice (DOJ) certification. A lawsuit brought by eleven Arizona death-row prisoners challenging the DOJ’s opt-in regulatory process was already pending in Arizona federal district court at the time of the opt-in declaration. That suit alleges that DOJ utilized improper regulatory procedures to deprive the prisoners of the procedural safeguards required in federal habeas corpus proceedings.


Read the Department of Justice Opt-In Certification Order.