Law School Case Brief
Mooney v. Holohan - 294 U.S. 103, 55 S. Ct. 340 (1935)
Orderly procedure, governed by principles the Supreme Court has repeatedly announced, requires that before this Court is asked to issue a writ of habeas corpus, in the case of a person held under a state commitment, recourse should be had to whatever judicial remedy afforded by the state may still remain open.
Several years after he had been convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death, the sentence of which was commuted to life imprisonment, Thomas J. Mooney sought federal habeas corpus relief. The district court dismissed the petition for failure to exhaust state remedies. Mooney then asked leave to file petition. He stated that he was unlawfully being restrained of his liberty by the State of California. Furthermore, he claimed that he was denied due process by the State's knowing use of perjured testimony and suppression of evidence that would have impeached the testimony, and by the State's failure to provide any corrective judicial process by which a conviction so obtained could be set aside. The State argued that Mooney failed to raise a federal question and the State was not required to afford any corrective judicial process to remedy the alleged wrong.
Did the State fail to provide any corrective judicial process by which a conviction so obtained could be set aside?
The United States Supreme Court was not satisfied that the State failed to provide a corrective judicial process because the prerogative writ of habeas corpus was available. Furthermore, the Court averred that no state supreme court decision was cited to the court holding that the state court lacked power to issue a writ if one were deprived of his liberty in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court further held that Mooney had failed to exhaust his state remedies because he had not applied to the state court for a writ of habeas corpus upon the grounds stated in his petition to the Court.
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