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The Habeas Citebook: lneffective Assistance of Counsel, by Brandon Sample, Prison Legal News Publishing, 2010, pp.212 $49.95

Reviewed by Mumia Abu Jamal

Law books aren’t easy to review.

That’s because they are unlike other books, as they are really collections of what others—courts—have written, and are thus actually the recitations of others.

The Habeas Citebook is precisely that book that many prisoners are seeking. For lawyers, their reference material is usually a casebook, with much of the text taken up by excerpts of cases, as decided by various courts.

This is not a casebook. But The Habeas Citebook does present a wealth of cases, on a plethora of subjects.

The introduction by Elizabeth Alexander, the former director of the ACLU National Prison Project, notes how court access for prisoners with meritorious habeas corpus claims has become even more difficult than it was previously.

Brandon Sample, in his introductory remarks, informs us that, given the political reality in the courts, most of the relief has been granted to petitioners who argue that their lawyers were somehow ineffective.

He presents the cases (most of which came from the circuit courts of appeals), which proved most favorable, and had relief found.

He also included real motions and briefs (with relevant names blacked out), so that people could see how the issues were actually framed, written and presented to the courts.

This looks like the real stuff: a valuable resource to jailhouse lawyers (JLs), but also a valuable source for prisoners seeking to prepare their own pleadings and appellate papers.

The cases, 98% of which were decided in the circuit courts, range from the 1st Circuit to the 11th, and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

What this really is, is a digest, similar to those old, thick law books put out by legal publishers years ago.

Yet this is quick, easily broken down into sections, and surprisingly clear. Sample should be proud of writing this work, and PLN proud for publishing it. The Habeas Citebook is available for $49.95 postpaid, from: PLN, P.O. Box 2420, West Brattleboro, VT 05303. or 802 257-1342.

M. A. Jamal is a Jailhouse Lawyer member of the National Lawyers Guild, and has written for PLN. He has authored a book on Jailhouse Lawyers which is also available from PLN, see page 53 for ordering details.

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