A long-running discovery dispute in Texas state court led to a contempt order, which in turn led to a federal-court habeas action. The Fifth Circuit noted that habeas relief was potentially available under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, as codified in 28 U.S.C. § 2254, under which:
… if an adequate state ‘corrective process’ for raising a claim exists that the petitioner could avail him or herself of, a federal court may only consider the claim if the petitioner has exhausted available state remedies. And when the petitioner has done so and the state court has rejected the claim on the merits, federal courts may provide relief only when the state court adjudication was either ‘contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,’ or ‘based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.’
(citations omitted). Among other observations, the Court held: “A rule that due process does not permit the use of civil contempt to compel the production of documents that are in the hands of third parties would also overturn longstanding precedents and would likely be unworkable in practice.” Topletz v. Skinner, No. 20-40136 (July 30, 2021).
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