Edwards v. Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 8 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 446 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

ground doctrine ensures that the States' interest in correcting their own mistakes is respected in all federal habeas cases." 501 U. S., at 732. We again considered the interplay between exhaustion and procedural default last Term in O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U. S. 838 (1999), concluding that the latter doctrine was necessary to " 'protect the integrity' of the federal exhaustion rule." Id., at 848 (quoting id., at 853 (Stevens, J., dissenting)). The purposes of the exhaustion requirement, we said, would be utterly defeated if the prisoner were able to obtain federal habeas review simply by " 'letting the time run' " so that state remedies were no longer available. Id., at 848. Those purposes would be no less frustrated were we to allow federal review to a prisoner who had presented his claim to the state court, but in such a manner that the state court could not, consistent with its own procedural rules, have entertained it. In such circumstances, though the prisoner would have "concededly exhausted his state remedies," it could hardly be said that, as comity and federalism require, the State had been given a "fair 'opportunity to pass upon [his claims].' " Id., at 854 (Stevens, J., dissenting) (emphasis added) (quoting Darr v. Burford, 339 U. S. 200, 204 (1950)).

To hold, as we do, that an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim asserted as cause for the procedural default of another claim can itself be procedurally defaulted is not to say that that procedural default may not itself be excused if the prisoner can satisfy the cause-and-prejudice standard with respect to that claim. Indeed, the Sixth Circuit may well conclude on remand that respondent can meet that standard in this case (although we should note that respondent has not argued that he can, preferring instead to argue that he does not have to). Or it may conclude, as did the District Court, that Ohio Rule of Appellate Procedure 26(B) does not constitute an adequate procedural ground to bar federal habeas review of the ineffective-assistance claim. We express no view as to these issues, or on the question


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