Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why There Are Lawyers: "Custody" vs. "Confinement"

More language fun, this time from the 7th Circuit.

It is fundamental that to be eligible for habeas relief, one must be "in custody." After all, a habeas petition is a request that one's jailer produce one's body (the corpus part) before the court (instead of the king now) and justify the detention. It is also fundamental that "custody" includes parole or probation.

For the purposes of Federal Rule of Evidence 609(b) and the 10-year limit (absent extreme justification) on the use of prior convictions to impeach, however, it works a little differently. The 10-year limit runs from "the date of the conviction or of the release of the witness from the confinement imposed for the conviction, whichever is the later date . . . ."

The 7th says (in a circuit first-impression case) that once released on probation, one has been released from confinement for Rule 609(b) purposes. But while on probation, for habeas purposes, as I said above one is still "in custody."

I guess it's the difference between Tyson's chickens and the free-range variety.

United States v. Rogers, Case No. 06-6730 (7th Cir. 9/4/08)

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