by Katharine Yale

Today, in Hardy v. Warden of the Greensville Correctional Center, the Fourth Circuit considered the district court’s order denying relief on prisoner’s habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

To appeal a final order in a habeas proceeding, a circuit justice or judge must issue a certificate of appealability. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2253, a certificate of appealability may issue only if the defendant is able to show “a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.”

The court, in an unpublished per curiam decision, reiterated the standard for such a showing as set forth in Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473 (2000).  If a prisoner’s relief is denied on the merits of his claim, he can meet the “substantial showing” standard by demonstrating that reasonable jurists would find that the district court’s assessment of the constitutional claims is debatable or wrong.   Alternatively, if the constitutional claim is not reached and the relief is denied solely on procedural grounds, the prisoner must show that reasonable jurists could debate over whether the petition states a claim of the denial of a constitutional right and whether the district court was correct in its dispositive procedural ruling.

In this case, after reviewing the record, the court held that the prisoner had not made the requisite showing. Thus, the certificate of appealability was denied and the appeal was accordingly dismissed.

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