Edwards v. Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 5 (2000)

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Opinion of the Court

serve as cause excusing that default. The District Court acknowledged that the ineffective-assistance claim had been dismissed on procedural grounds, but concluded that Rule 26(B)'s inconsistent application by the Ohio courts rendered it inadequate to bar federal habeas review. See Ford v. Georgia, 498 U. S. 411, 423-424 (1991) (state procedural default is not an "independent and adequate state ground" barring subsequent federal review unless the state rule was " 'firmly established and regularly followed' " at the time it was applied). Proceeding to the merits of the ineffective-assistance claim, the District Court concluded that respond-ent's appellate counsel was constitutionally ineffective under the test established in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 (1984), and granted the writ of habeas corpus conditioned on the state appellate court's reopening of respond-ent's direct appeal of the sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim.

On cross-appeals, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that respondent's ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim served as "cause" to excuse the procedural default of his sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim, whether or not the ineffective-assistance claim itself had been procedurally defaulted. Carpenter v. Mohr, 163 F. 3d 938 (CA6 1998). In the panel's view, it sufficed that respondent had exhausted the ineffective-assistance claim by presenting it to the state courts in his application to reopen the direct appeal, even though that application might, under Ohio law, have been time barred. Finding in addition prejudice from counsel's failure to raise the sufficiencyof-the-evidence claim on direct appeal, the Sixth Circuit directed the District Court to issue the writ of habeas corpus conditioned upon the state court's according respondent a new culpability hearing. We granted certiorari. 528 U. S. 985 (1999).


Petitioner contends that the Sixth Circuit erred in failing to recognize that a procedurally defaulted ineffective-

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