Edwards v. Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 7 (2000)

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452

EDWARDS v. CARPENTER

Opinion of the Court

now codified in the federal habeas statute, see 28 U. S. C. 2254(b), (c)—require that constitutional claim, like others, to be first raised in state court. "[A] claim of ineffective assistance," we said, generally must "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 question raised by the present case is whether Carrier's exhaustion requirement for claims of ineffective assistance asserted as cause is uniquely immune from the procedural-default rule that accompanies the exhaustion requirement in all other contexts—whether, in other words, it suffices that the ineffective-assistance claim was "presented" to the state courts, even though it was not presented in the manner that state law requires. That is not a hard question. An affirmative answer would render Carrier's exhaustion requirement illusory.3

We recognized the inseparability of the exhaustion rule and the procedural-default doctrine in Coleman: "In the absence of the independent and adequate state ground doctrine in federal habeas, habeas petitioners would be able to avoid the exhaustion requirement by defaulting their federal claims in state court. The independent and adequate state

3 Last Term, in a per curiam summary reversal, we clearly expressed the view that a habeas petitioner must satisfy the "cause and prejudice" standard before his procedurally defaulted ineffective-assistance claim will excuse the default of another claim. Stewart v. LaGrand, 526 U. S. 115, 120 (1999). Respondent contends that we are not bound by LaGrand because in that case the habeas petitioner had waived his ineffective-assistance claim in the District Court, thereby rendering our procedural default discussion dicta, and because, in any event, per curiam opinions decided without the benefit of full briefing or oral argument are of little precedential value. Whether our procedural default analysis in LaGrand is properly characterized as dictum or as alternative holding, and whatever the precedential value of a per curiam opinion, the ease with which we so recently resolved this identical question reflects the degree to which the proper resolution flows irresistibly from our precedents.

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