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1993

Cornell University Law School

Criminal Procedure

Chapman rule

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Harmless Error In Federal Habeas Corpus After Brecht V. Abrahamson, John H. Blume, Stephen P. Garvey Oct 1993

Harmless Error In Federal Habeas Corpus After Brecht V. Abrahamson, John H. Blume, Stephen P. Garvey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The law of habeas corpus has changed again. This time it was the law of harmless error. Before Brecht v. Abrahamson, the courts applied the same harmless error rule on direct appeal and in federal habeas corpus. Under that rule, embraced for constitutional errors in Chapman v. California, a conviction tainted by a constitutional error susceptible to harmless error analysis could be upheld only if the state demonstrated that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. After Brecht, the venerable Chapman rule still applies to constitutional errors identified and reviewed on direct appeal, but an ostensibly "less …