Appellate court litigation can occur either before or after conviction. It is sometimes necessary for the Public Defender to challenge an order of a trial court before conviction. Such challenges are called writ proceedings. Each Deputy Public Defender is responsible for any appropriate motions, including pre-trial writs.
The Public Defender's Office is generally permitted by law to handle post-conviction appeals in the appellate courts only for defendants who were represented by the Public Defender's Office in the trial court. The appellate process takes a very long time to be completed, and is a very specialized practice. The Public Defenders Office does not have an appellate staff to enable us to routinely handle post-conviction appeals. Other counsel is available to be appointed for the appeal. Upon request of the client, the Deputy Public Defender who represented the defendant will file the documents in the trial court necessary for starting the appellate process and to obtain the appointment of appellate counsel. There are very specific and short time frames within which to file an appeal. Please notify your Deputy Public Defender promptly, in order to timely file your notice of appeal and request for appointment of appellate counsel.
A writ of habeas corpus is an order directing authorities to bring the defendant before a court to determine whether keeping the defendant in custody is legal or not. It is also a way of challenging the constitutionality of a conviction.If a habeas corpus petition needs to be filed in a pending case that is already being handled by our office, the Public Defender will do so. If the nature of the writ of habeas corpus relates to a condition of confinement at the Napa County Department of Corrections, you will be asked to first utilize the jail’s administrative process. Also, the Department of Corrections must provide you with a writ of habeas corpus form which you can send directly to the court. The court assigns a judge to review such writs and determine if it should be set for a hearing or denied.
The Public Defender may also agree to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus for a person after conviction, particularly in cases where the validity of the conviction itself is in issue, or where it appears that a person is being unlawfully detained in custody.