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In 2017, Federal District Court Judge Charles Breyer denied the habeas appeal of DeWayne Ewing, an innocent man, based on the timeliness of his appeal rather than on the facts of the case, because of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), passed in 1996 – the Senate voted 91-8 – and signed by Bill Clinton. Part of the way Congress tried to make the death penalty “more effective” was to limit the ability of prisoners to appeal, especially to have multiple appeals.
Justice is the backbone of civil society, the very core of a democracy. The law, however, is a confusing morass of conflicting rules and decisions that is often impenetrable to the average citizen. Until last month, there was nowhere permanent that residents in Bayview Hunters Point could go to for basic legal help.