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Denial of Habeas Relief Reversed Based on Mishandling of Inmate's Appeal Papers

By FindLaw Staff on April 05, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Dorn v. Lafler, No. 08-1594, the Sixth Circuit faced a challenge to a district court's denial of defendant's request for habeas relief claiming ineffective assistance of counsel and denial of an appeal as of right in violation of his constitutional right to access the court. 

As stated in the decision: "Dorn gave prison officials his appeal papers seven days before they had to be received by the court.  This gave the prison a reasonable amount of time within which to mail the papers such that they would be received before his filing deadline." 

Thus, in reversing the district court's denial of habeas relief, the court held that the prison's handling of defendant's papers precluded him from pursuing his statutory right of appeal and under Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), the defendant is entitled to a presumption of prejudice. 

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