Ask any Los Angeles criminal appeals lawyer, and almost universally, they will tell you that the most complex part of their job relates to the procedure for a California writ of habeas corpus. However, as complex as habeas corpus procedure is, it is also equally important. Knowing how habeas claims proceed through the system not only gives inmates an understanding of which claims they can raise and when, but it also enables them to better situate their claims for timely review. At Power Trial Lawyers, our Los Angeles post-conviction lawyers understand the intricacies of California habeas corpus law and put this knowledge to use in each of our clients’ cases. We routinely help our clients present the merits of their claims to the court and have secured the release and resentencing of many of our deserving clients.What Is a Traverse?
A traverse is an inmate’s official response to the district attorney’s response to the inmate’s petition for writ of habeas corpus. When an inmate files a petition for writ of habeas corpus, the first thing the court does is review the petition to ensure that it complies with the requirements of California Rules of Court Rule 4.551 and that it raises a viable claim.
If the court finds that an inmate’s petition meets these basic requirements, it can then deny the petition or allow it to move forward. If the court permits the petition to move forward, it can order either a formal or an informal briefing.
At this point, regardless of whether the case is on the formal or informal track, it is up to the local district attorney’s office to file a response to the inmate’s petition, called a “return.” In the return, the district attorney can individually admit or deny the facts presented in the petition.
By filing a traverse, the inmate then has the opportunity to individually respond to the district attorney’s admissions or denials. Like the district attorney’s return, this is done by addressing each fact systematically. The goal of a traverse is not to immediately obtain habeas relief but to get the court to grant an evidentiary hearing where it can then accept additional evidence that was not contained in the trial record. When the court grants an evidentiary hearing, it will often permit additional briefing on the issues raised in the petition, giving an inmate the chance to further flesh out their arguments.Is a Traverse Required?
No, technically speaking, a traverse is not required, and an inmate can rest on their petition alone. However, practically speaking, filing a traverse is all but essential if an inmate hopes to obtain an evidentiary hearing.What Should Be Included in a Traverse?
When filing a traverse, the idea is to individually dispute the district attorney’s claims that the inmate’s claim should be dismissed. For example, if the district attorney alleges that a petition for writ of habeas corpus should be dismissed due to a procedural defect, the inmate should use the traverse to specifically respond to the district attorney’s proffered reasons for denial.Are You Seeking Habeas Corpus Relief in California?
If you were convicted of a crime and are currently considering filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus, it is imperative that you work with an experienced Los Angeles post-conviction attorney. Nationally, courts order evidentiary hearings in fewer than one percent of all petitions for writ of habeas corpus, and you must do everything possible to set your petition apart from the thousands of others the court has reviewed. At Power Trial Lawyers, we have extensive experience effectively presenting the merits of our clients’ claims to California courts, which is a necessary stepping stone on the road toward habeas corpus relief. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Barhoma today, call 213-800-7664. You can also reach us through our online contact form.