533 U.S. 167 (2001), 00-121, Duncan v. Walker

Docket Nº:No. 00-121
Citation:533 U.S. 167, 121 S.Ct. 2120, 150 L.Ed.2d 251, 69 U.S.L.W. 4473
Party Name:DUNCAN, SUPERINTENDENT, GREAT MEADOW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY v. WALKER
Case Date:June 18, 2001
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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533 U.S. 167 (2001)

121 S.Ct. 2120, 150 L.Ed.2d 251, 69 U.S.L.W. 4473

DUNCAN, SUPERINTENDENT, GREAT MEADOW CORRECTIONAL FACILITY

v.

WALKER

No. 00-121

United States Supreme Court

June 18, 2001

Argued March 26, 2001

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

The time during which an "application for State post-conviction or other collateral review" is pending tolls the limitation period for filing federal habeas petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). Before the April 24, 1996, effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), respondent's state robbery conviction became final. He filed, inter alia, a federal habeas petition under § 2254. The District Court dismissed the petition without prejudice because it was not apparent that respondent had exhausted available state remedies. On May 20, 1997, without having returned to state court, respondent filed another federal habeas petition. The District Court dismissed that petition because respondent had not filed within a reasonable time from AEDPA's effective date. In reversing, the Second Circuit found that respondent's first federal habeas petition was an application for "other collateral review" that tolled the limitation period under § 2244(d)(2) and made his current petition timely.

Held:

A federal habeas petition is not an "application for State post-conviction or other collateral review" within the meaning of § 2244(d)(2). As a result, § 2244(d)(2) did not toll the limitation period during the pendency of respondent's first federal habeas petition. The Court begins with the language of the statute. See, e. g., Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.C. 420, 431. Petitioner's contention that "State" applies to the entire phrase "post-conviction or other collateral review" is correct. To begin with, Congress placed "State" before that phrase without specifically naming any kind of "Federal" review. The fact that other AEDPA provisions denominate expressly both "State" and "Federal" proceedings, see, e. g., § 2254(i), supplies strong evidence that Congress would have mentioned "Federal" review expressly had Congress intended to include federal review. See Bates v. United States, 522 U.C. 23, 29-30. Respondent's contrary construction would render the word "State" insignificant, if not wholly superfluous. This Court's duty to give effect, where possible, to every word of a statute, United States v. Menasche, 348 U.C. 528, 538-539, makes the Court reluctant to treat statutory terms as surplusage. This is especially so when the

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term occupies so pivotal a place in the statutory scheme as the word "State" in the federal habeas statute. But under respondent's rendition, "State" has no operative effect on the scope of § 2244(d)(2). The clause would have precisely the same content were it to read "post-conviction or other collateral review." Contrary to the Second Circuit's characterization, petitioner's interpretation does not yield the linguistic oddity "State other collateral review," but more naturally yields the understanding "other State collateral review." Further, that court's reasoning that the phrase "other collateral review" would be rendered meaningless if it did not refer to federal habeas petitions depends on the incorrect premise that the only state "collateral" review is "post-conviction" review. "[O]ther collateral review" could include, e. g., a state court civil commitment or civil contempt order. Congress also may have used "post-conviction or other collateral" in recognition of the diverse terminology that different States employ to represent the different forms of collateral review that are available after a conviction. Examination of the AEDPA provision establishing the limitation period for filing § 2254 petitions in state capital cases, § 2263(b)(2), shows that Congress used the disjunctive clause "post-conviction review or other collateral relief" where the latter term could not possibly include anything federal within its ambit. Petitioner's construction is also far more consistent than respondent's with AEDPA's purpose to further the principles of comity, finality, and federalism. Respondent contends that petitioner's interpretation creates the potential for unfairness to litigants who file timely federal petitions that are dismissed without prejudice after the limitation period has expired. But the Court's sole task here is one of statutory construction. And in light of the facts that respondent never cured the defects that led to the dismissal of his first federal petition during the remaining nine months of the limitation period, and that his 1996 and 1997 petitions contained different claims, this Court has no occasion to address alternative scenarios. Pp. 172-182.

208 F.3d 357, reversed and remanded.

O'Connor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Souter, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 182. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Souter, J., joined, post, p. 182. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg, J., joined, post, p. 185.

Preeta D. Bansal, Solicitor General of New York, argued the cause for petitioner. With her on the briefs were Eliot

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Spitzer, Attorney General, Daniel Smirlock, Deputy Solicitor General, and David Axinn, Robert H. Easton, Robin Forshaw, and Martin A. Hotvet, Assistant Solicitors General.

Deborah Wolikow Loewenberg, by appointment of the Court, 531 U.C. 1066, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were John H. Blume and Keir M. Weyble.[*]

Justice O'Connor delivered the opinion of the Court.

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2) (1994 ed., Supp. V) provides: "The time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending shall not be counted toward any period of limitation under this subsection." This case presents the question whether a federal habeas corpus petition is an "application for State post-conviction or other collateral review" within the meaning of this provision.

I

In 1992, several judgments of conviction for robbery were entered against respondent Sherman Walker in the

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New York state courts. The last of these convictions came in June 1992, when respondent pleaded guilty to robbery in the first degree in the New York Supreme Court, Queens County. Respondent was sentenced to 7 to 14 years in prison on this conviction.

Respondent unsuccessfully pursued a number of state remedies in connection with his convictions. It is unnecessary to describe all of these proceedings herein. Respondent's last conviction was affirmed on June 12, 1995. Respondent was later denied leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals. Respondent also sought a writ of error coram nobis, which the Appellate Division denied on March 18, 1996. Respondent's last conviction became final in April 1996, prior to the April 24, 1996, effective date of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 110 Stat. 1214.

In a single document dated April 10, 1996, respondent filed a complaint under Rev. Stat. § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. On July 9, 1996, the District Court dismissed the complaint and petition without prejudice. With respect to the habeas petition, the District Court, citing § 2254(b), concluded that respondent had not adequately set forth his claim because it was not apparent that respondent had exhausted available state remedies. The District Court noted that, for example, respondent had failed to specify the claims litigated in the state appellate proceedings relating to his robbery convictions.

On May 20, 1997, more than one year after AEDPA's effective date, respondent filed another federal habeas petition in the same District Court. It is undisputed that respondent had not returned to state court since the dismissal of his first federal habeas filing. On May 6, 1998, the District Court dismissed the petition as time barred because

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respondent had not filed the petition within a "reasonable time" from AEDPA's effective date.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the District Court's judgment, reinstated the habeas petition, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Walker v. Artuz, 208 F.3d 357 (2000). The Court of Appeals noted at the outset that, because respondent's conviction had become final prior to AEDPA's effective date, he had until April 24, 1997, to file his federal habeas petition. The court also observed that the exclusion from the limitation period of the time during which respondent's first federal habeas petition was pending in the District Court would render the instant habeas petition timely.

The Court of Appeals held that respondent's first federal habeas petition had tolled the limitation period because it was an application for "other collateral review" within the meaning of § 2244(d)(2). The court characterized the disjunctive "or" between "post-conviction" and "other collateral" as creating a "distinct break" between two kinds of review. Id., at 359. The court also stated that application of the word "State" to both "post-conviction" and "other collateral" would create a "linguistic oddity" in the form of the construction "State other collateral review." Id., at 360. The court further reasoned that the phrase "other collateral review" would be meaningless if it did not refer to federal habeas petitions. The court therefore concluded that...

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