High court keeps courts open to innocence claims

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided Supreme Court has ruled that a state prison inmate who has a strong claim of innocence may be allowed more time than normal to file a challenge to his conviction in federal court.

In a 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the court said that a 1996 law intended to speed appeals through the federal system should not prevent a prisoner with a convincing showing that he actually is innocent from making his case in court, even when he has missed the law's deadline for raising the claim.

A second case, also decided by a 5-4 vote, said that inmates on death row must have a chance somewhere in the appeals process to argue that their trial lawyers let them down.

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