529 U.S. 446 (2000), 98-2060, Edwards v. Carpenter

Docket Nº:Case No. 98-2060
Citation:529 U.S. 446, 120 S.Ct. 1587, 146 L.Ed.2d 518, 68 U.S.L.W. 4308
Case Date:April 25, 2000
Court:United States Supreme Court

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529 U.S. 446 (2000)

120 S.Ct. 1587, 146 L.Ed.2d 518, 68 U.S.L.W. 4308




Case No. 98-2060

United States Supreme Court

April 25, 2000

Argued February 28, 2000



Respondent pleaded guilty while maintaining his innocence to Ohio murder and robbery charges in exchange for the prosecutor's agreement that the plea could be withdrawn if the death penalty was imposed. The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence of imprisonment, and he did not appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. After pursuing state postconviction relief pro se, respondent, represented by new counsel, petitioned the Ohio Court of Appeals to reopen his direct appeal, claiming that his original appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective in failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and sentence. The court dismissed the application as untimely under Ohio Rule of Appellate Procedure 26(B), and the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed. Respondent then filed a federal habeas petition, raising, inter alia, the sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, and alleging that his appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective in not raising that claim on direct appeal. The District Court found that his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim was cause excusing the procedural default of his sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim because Rule 26(B) was not an adequate procedural ground to bar federal review of the ineffective-assistance claim; concluded that respondent's appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective; and granted the writ conditioned on the state appellate court's reopening of respondent's direct appeal of the sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim. On cross-appeals, the Sixth Circuit held that the ineffective-assistance claim served as cause to excuse the default of the sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, whether or not the former claim had been procedurally defaulted, because respondent had exhausted the ineffective-assistance claim by presenting it to the state courts in his application to reopen the direct appeal. Finding prejudice from counsel's failure to raise the sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim on direct appeal, it directed the District Court to issue the writ conditioned upon the state court's according respondent a new culpability hearing.


A procedurally defaulted ineffective-assistance claim can serve as cause to excuse the procedural default of another habeas claim only if the habeas petitioner can satisfy the "cause and prejudice" standard with respect to the ineffective-assistance claim itself. The procedural

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default doctrine and its attendant "cause and prejudice" standard are grounded in comity and federalism concerns, Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 730, and apply whether the default occurred at trial, on appeal, or on state collateral attack, Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 490-492. Thus, a prisoner must demonstrate cause for his state-court default of any federal claim, and prejudice therefrom, before the federal habeas court will consider that claim's merits. 501 U.S., at 750. Counsel's ineffectiveness in failing properly to preserve a claim for state-court review will suffice as cause, but only if that ineffectiveness itself constitutes an independent constitutional claim. Carrier, supra, at 488-499. The comity and federalism principles underlying the doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies require an ineffective-assistance claim to be presented to the state courts as an independent claim before it may be used to establish cause for a procedural default. Carrier, supra, at 489. The doctrine's purposes would be frustrated if federal review were available to a prisoner who had presented his claim in state court, but in such a manner that the state court could not, under its procedural rules, have entertained it. Pp. 450-454.

163 F.3d 938, reversed and remanded.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Stevens, J., joined, post, p. 454.

Edward B. Foley, State Solicitor of Ohio, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Betty D. Montgomery, Attorney General, David M. Gormley, and Stephen P. Carney.

J. Joseph Bodine, Jr., argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were David H. Bodiker, Laurence E. Komp, and Angela Wilson Miller. [*]

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Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether a federal habeas court is barred from considering an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim as "cause" for the procedural default of another claim when the ineffective-assistance claim has itself been procedurally defaulted.


Respondent was indicted by an Ohio grand jury for aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. He entered a guilty plea while maintaining his innocence—a procedure we held to be constitutional in North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970)—in exchange for the prosecution's agreement that the guilty plea could be withdrawn if the three-judge panel that accepted it elected, after a mitigation hearing, to impose the death penalty. The panel accepted respondent's plea based on the prosecution's recitation of the evidence supporting the charges and, following a mitigation hearing, sentenced him to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 30 years on the aggravated-murder count and to a concurrent term of 10 to 25 years on the aggravated-robbery count. On direct appeal respondent, represented by new counsel, assigned only the single error that the evidence offered in mitigation established that he should have been

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eligible for parole after 20 rather than 30 years. The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed, and respondent did not appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

After unsuccessfully pursuing state postconviction relief pro se, respondent, again represented by new counsel, filed an application in the Ohio Court of Appeals to reopen his direct appeal, pursuant to Ohio Rule of Appellate Procedure 26(B),[1] on the ground that his original appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective in failing to raise on direct appeal a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. The appellate court dismissed the application because respondent had failed to show, as the rule required, good cause for filing after the 90-day period allowed.[2] The Ohio Supreme Court, in a one-sentence per curiam opinion, affirmed. State v. Carpenter, 74 Ohio St. 3d 408, 659 N.E.2d 786 (1996).

On May 3, 1996, respondent filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the...

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