Herrera v. Collins

In Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993) the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Texas's 30-day time limit on motions for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The Court upheld the time limit even when there is no other statutory remedy available for bringing a claim of actual innocence. The Court also held that newly discovered evidence relevant to a prisoner's guilt is not a ground for relief under the federal Habeas Corpus Act: "Federal habeas courts sit to ensure that individuals are not imprisoned in violation of the Constitution -- not to correct errors of fact." In Herrera v. Collins, the petitioner based his claim of actual innocence on newly discovered evidence that showed that his brother committed the crime for which he was convicted. Herrera, 506 U.S. at 396. In Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995), the petitioner asserted a claim of actual innocence by claiming that constitutional error deprived the jury of critical evidence that would have established his innocence. Id. at 301.? Before addressing the merits of Schlup's claim, the Supreme Court discussed the importance of distinguishing between the type of claim asserted by Schlup versus the type of claim asserted by the petitioner in Herrera. A Herrera-type claim involves a substantive claim in which applicant asserts his bare claim of innocence based solely on newly discovered evidence. ?Schlup, 513 U.S. at 314, 115 S.Ct. 851; ?See also Elizondo, 947 S.W.2d at 208. ? A Schlup-type claim, on the other hand, is a procedural claim in which applicant's claim of innocence does not provide a basis for relief, but is tied to a showing of constitutional error at trial. Schlup, 513 U.S. at 314. The two claims require applicants to meet different burdens in order to obtain habeas relief. The Court expounded upon the difference between the two situations: Schlup's claim thus differs in at least two important ways from that presented in Herrera. First, Schlup's claim of innocence does not by itself provide a basis for relief. Instead, his claim for relief depends critically on the validity of his Strickland and Brady claims. Schlup's claim of innocence is thus "not itself a constitutional claim, but instead a gateway through which a habeas petitioner must pass to have his otherwise barred constitutional claim considered on the merits." More importantly, a court's assumptions about the validity of the proceedings that resulted in a conviction are fundamentally different in Schlup's case than in Herrera's. In Herrera, petitioner's claim was evaluated on the assumption that the trial that resulted in his conviction had been error free. In such a case, when a petitioner has been "tried before a jury of his peers, with the full panoply of protections that our Constitution affords criminal defendants," it is appropriate to apply an " 'extraordinarily high' " standard of review. Consequently, Schlup's evidence of innocence need carry less of a burden. In Herrera (on the assumption that petitioner's claim was, in principle, legally well founded), the evidence of innocence would have had to be strong enough to make his execution "constitutionally intolerable" even if his conviction was the product of a fair trial. For Schlup, the evidence must establish sufficient doubt about his guilt to justify the conclusion that his execution would be a miscarriage of justice unless his conviction was a product of a fair trial. Schlup, 513 U.S. at 315-16. The Court concluded that in a Schlup-type situation, the petitioner must show that the constitutional error "probably resulted" in the conviction of one who was actually innocent. Id. at 326-27. The Court articulated the meaning of probably resulted as follows: "The petitioner must show that it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in light of the new evidence." Id. at 327.