Unlimited Innocence: Recognizing an Actual Innocence Exception to AEDPA’s Statute of Limitations


In 1992, Michael Wyzykowski was charged in Palm Beach County, Florida, with the first-degree murder of Fred Butterworth. Mr. Wyzykowski was also charged with the attempted burglary of shoes from Butterworth’s home. On the advice of his attorney, Mr. Wyzykowski pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to twenty-three years in a Florida state prison.

After approximately five years in prison, Mr. Wyzykowski filed a pro se federal habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the Southern District of Florida in July 1997, claiming that he had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. Under federal laws 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 2254, state prisoners who claim to be held in custody by a state government in violation of the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States may file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court. A federal court may order the release of a state prisoner who it determines is being held by a state in violation of federal law.

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