Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 Law and Legal Definition

Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) is an Act of Congress signed into law on April 24, 1996 by President Bill Clinton. The act was in response to general dissatisfaction with the law of habeas corpus and therefore brings major modifications to habeas corpus law as used to challenge criminal convictions. The law limits both the procedural and substantive scope of the writ of habeas corpus. Procedurally, it bans successive petitions by the same person, requiring defendants to put all of their claims into one appeal. Substantively, it narrows the grounds on which successful habeas claims can be made, allowing claims only to succeed when the convictions were contrary to “clearly established federal law” or an “unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence.” The act created a new one-year statute of limitations for filing habeas corpus proceedings, measured from the time when state court consideration of the case ended. The act made it even more difficult to present claims that had not been presented to the state courts because of an attorney's error.