Townsend Factors

Townsend Factors

Definition

In Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293 (1963), the United States Supreme Court held that a federal habeas petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing if at least one of six factors applies: (1) a state hearing did not resolve the factual dispute on its merits; (2) the state-court record does not fairly support the state’s factual determination; (3) the state court’s fact-finding procedure was inadequate to provide a full and fair hearing; (4) the petitioner substantially alleges newly discovered evidence that relates to a constitutional issue and is not obviously frivolous or incredible; (5) the state-court hearing did not adequately develop the material facts and this oversight was not attributable to the petitioner’s inexcusable neglect; or (6) for any other reason, the habeas applicant was deprived of a full and fair factual hearing in state court. In any other situation in which material facts are disputed, the federal court has discretion to determine whether an evidentiary hearing is necessary.

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