Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Virginia Supreme Court Denies Audita Querela & Coram Nobis Post-Conviction Relief

In January, the Virginia Supreme Court issued its decision in two cases concerning the availability and application of post-conviction relief from removeability in Virginia state courts (Commonwealth v. Morris and Commonwealth v. Chan). At issue were two ancient writs, the writ of audita querela and the writ of coram nobis, which Morris and Chan argued were available to alter the criminal sentence of an alien long after it was originally imposed in order to avoid harsh immigration consequences such as deportation.

The Court held that the write of audita querela was simply not an available form of post-conviction relief in Virginia, despite its availability in a number of other jurisdictions.  The Court also held that ineffective assistance of counsel did not constitute and error in fact for the purposes of the writ of coram nobis.

Read the opinion here.
Read Washington Post article here.

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