Skip to main content

Woman Seeks to Clear Her Name With Rarely Granted Writ


On Monday, The American Lawyer posted an article on its website about Miriam Moskowitz, who was convicted in 1950 on a charge of conspiracy in a case involving the theft of U.S. atomic secrets. Moskowitz has always denied that she had any knowledge of the espionage plot between her boss, Abraham Brothman, and his associate Harry Gold. In 2008, evidence uncovered in a judicial review showed that Gold’s testimony at trial conflicted with his earlier statements to the FBI. Moskowitz, now 98 years old, is attempting to use this newly discovered evidence to clear her name.   

The legal process by which she is doing so is known as a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The Latin phrase coram nobis means “before us,” and refers to errors of fact (not of law) before the court. Coram nobis petitions are sometimes used to challenge the results of cases in which evidence was withheld by prosecutors. The writ is rarely granted in criminal cases, and has been abolished altogether in federal civil cases. (See Rule 60(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.) One famous instance of its use occurred in 1983, when a U.S. District Court granted the writ to overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American who had been convicted of evading internment during World War II. (The conviction had previously been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944).)

For more on writs of error coram nobis and the history of their use in U.S. courts, see this 2009 article from the BYU Law Review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Legal Research AI Gains Venture Capital

The legal research company Casetext has announced that it has acquired $12 million in venture capital to expand on its CARA ("Case Analysis Research Assistant") AI software, a virtual research assistant currently capable of scanning a legal brief and retrieving cases relevant to but not cited in the brief.

CARA is not alone in the world of legal AIs.  When it was created last year, it joined the ranks of AIs including ROSS, an IBM Watson-based legal research AI, DoNotPay, a website founded in 2015 to automate the preparation of parking ticket appeals, and an amateur AI judge capable of predicting European Court of Human Rights decisions with 79% accuracy.

The Congressional Report on the Executive Authority to Exclude Aliens Released Days Before Immigration Ban

On January 27 President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States. Four days earlier, on January 24, the Congressional Research Service released its own report:  Executive Authority to Exclude Aliens: In Brief.
To those unfamiliar, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a federal legislative branch agency, housed inside the Library of Congress, charged with providing the United States Congress non-partisan advice on issues that may come before Congress, including immigration.
Included in the report are in-depth discussions on the operation of sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in the context of the executive power . Discussions of sections 212(f),  214(a)(1) and 215(a)(1) report on how the sections have been used by Presidents, along with relevant case law and precedents. Most interesting is the list of executive orders excluding some groups of aliens during past presidencies; the table all…