In this article, there is overwhelming evidence at the initial trial for any prosecutor, investigating authority and even the court to believe that John was the murderer. His confessions are consistent whenever they come, and his self-sentencing to death in itself an admission of guilt. The fact that even the state of the body turns out exactly where and how he had described to the police, and the motive he alleges would leave no doubt in anyone that he murdered Maxine in cold blood, and deserved the strictest sentence. Arrested seven months after the murder, crime scene evidence could have been greatly compromised, but not impossible. His instructions for his counsel not to argue against his conviction in itself is unusual, and though the videotaped confession is admissible evidence before courts of law, it should not almost singly form the basis upon which conviction is made. The fact that he recants this should have been a pointer to the need for further investigation. The evidence would easily move any juror to vote for conviction as the coincidences are strikingly sentencing.
The habeas process has essential controls in place as it stipulates lengthy procedures that a petitioner must meet, and that quite often, the application for the habeas hearing itself is discouragement enough as it may be rejected on several grounds. John in the above case exhausts all available state and federal appeals and review possibilities before opting for habeas. Habeas corpus reviews have been used to protect the likelihood of innocence among convicted prisoners, and especially those on death row, and are filed by prisoners serving a variety of sentences for state crimes after other possible remedies have been exhausted. Though it is provided for in the constitution without clearly being defined, it enables the exploration of possible legal and legislative errors that may have led to such convictions. In the case of Jacobs v. Scott, both Jesse Jacobs and his sister Bobbie Hogan were convicted of crime involving one act of murder which could only possibly have been committed by one person. To achieve this conviction, the same prosecutor had violated the constitutional provision for Due Process to be observed, and the ethical obligations by presenting inconsistent facts, first insisting that Jacobs had committed the crime – putting him on death row, and later actually presenting Jacobs to testify against Hogan in the attempt to prove it is the latter who actually pulled the trigger, in turn earning her 10 years. As Justice Stevens observes that it is: “possible to establish conclusively that a disturbing number of persons who had been sentenced to death were actually innocent.” With the enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in 1996, the courts’ jurisdiction over such petitions was further reduced in scope. The waiver, however, may only be possible in cases of suspicion of involvement in terrorism activities..
The outcome in Jacobs v. Scott clearly demonstrated the need for elaborate habeas corpus appeal hearings as the contrary could deny citizens accused of capital offences fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution as it is the only opportunity to address errors in conviction.
English, Michael Q. "A Prosecutor's Use of Inconsistent Factual Theories of a Crime in Successive Trials: Zealous Advocacy or a Due Process Violation?" Fordham Law Review (1999): 525.
Hamdan v. Rumsfield. No. 548. U.S. 557. 23 June 2006.
Lindh v. Murphy. No. 96-6298. 65 U.S.L.W. 23 June 1997.
United States Constitution, Article 1 Section 9. n.d.