Tuesday, January 24, 2012

4th Circuit abstains from intervening in court martial proceeding

Hennis v. Hemlick:  In this appeal, the Fourth Circuit upholds the Councilman abstention doctrine, against a petitioner pursuing habeas corpus relief in relation to a death penalty conviction handed down by a military court.

Hennis filed among other papers, a writ of habeas corpus, to appeal a district court’s decision not to reach the merits of his challenge to the Army’s exercise of court martial jurisdiction over him. The district court based its decision to abstain on Schlesinger v. Councilman, in which the Supreme Court held that federal courts should abstain from intervening in pending court martial proceedings and should require the exhaustion of remedies within the military justice system before collaterally reviewing cases.

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court, disagreeing with Hennis that his case had extraordinary facts sufficient to warrant any intrusion on the integrity of the military court processes.

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