Edwards v. Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 3 (2000)

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Opinion of the Court

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North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U. S. 25 (1970)—in exchange for the prosecution's agreement that the guilty plea could be withdrawn if the three-judge panel that accepted it elected, after a mitigation hearing, to impose the death penalty.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

Salazar of Colorado, M. Jane Brady of Delaware, Robert A. Butterworth of Florida, Thurbert E. Baker of Georgia, James E. Ryan of Illinois, Jeffrey A. Modisett of Indiana, Thomas J. Miller of Iowa, Carla J. Stovall of Kansas, Richard P. Ieyoub of Louisiana, J. Joseph Curran, Jr., of Maryland, Mike Hatch of Minnesota, Mike Moore of Mississippi, Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon of Missouri, Joseph P. Mazurek of Montana, Don Stenberg of Nebraska, Frankie Sue Del Papa of Nevada, Philip T. McLaughlin of New Hampshire, John J. Farmer, Jr., of New Jersey, Patricia A. Madrid of New Mexico, W. A. Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma, Charles M. Condon of South Carolina, Mark Barnett of South Dakota, Paul G. Summers of Tennessee, Jan Graham of Utah, William H. Sorrell of Vermont, Christine O. Gregoire of Washington, Darrell V. McGraw, Jr., of West Virginia, and James E. Doyle of Wisconsin.

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