Natasha Kang is a senior at the University of California, Davis.
Whether it was in government class or Law & Order, we have all heard about the right to counsel, an important right listed in the highest law of the land: the United States Constitution. The Sixth Amendment stipulates that in criminal prosecutions, the accused will “have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”  However, the Fifth Circuit of Appeals has passed a decision seemingly in conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Maples v. Thomas that attorney abandonment is a valid excuse for a failure to appeal a denial of habeas relief.
A writ of habeas corpus is used as post-conviction relief for prisoners in both the state and federal levels who wish to challenge the legal grounds of the application of laws used in the court proceedings that resulted in their conviction.  If a court denies the habeas application, the defendant may attempt to appeal their denial, but the appeal must filed within a certain time period. If a notice of appeal is not filed in time, federal habeas review will be barred from the petitioner due to his or her failure to follow state appellate procedure, also known as procedural default.