Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 10 (2000)

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Opinion of the Court

States, 524 U. S. 236, 241 (1998); Mackenzie v. A. Engel-hard & Sons Co., 266 U. S. 131 (1924). We have described proceedings in the courts of appeals as "appellate cases." E. g., Order of Apr. 30, 1991, 500 U. S. 1009 (amendments to Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure "shall govern all proceedings in appellate cases thereafter commenced"). Under AEDPA, an appellate case is commenced when the application for a COA is filed. Hohn, supra, at 241. When Congress instructs us (as Lindh says it has) that application of a statute is triggered by the commencement of a case, the relevant case for a statute directed to appeals is the one initiated in the appellate court. Thus, 2253(c) governs appellate court proceedings filed after AEDPA's effective date. We see no indication that Congress intended to tie application of the provisions to the date a petition was filed in the district court. The COA statute establishes procedural rules and requires a threshold inquiry into whether the circuit court may entertain an appeal. Hohn, supra, at 248; cf. Lindh, supra, at 327. Because Slack sought appellate review two years after AEDPA's effective date, 2253(c) governs his right to appeal.

We further note that we applied 2253 in our post-Lindh decision in Hohn, a case which arrived in the same posture as this case. Like Slack, Hohn argued 2253(c) did not apply because his petition had been filed in the District Court before AEDPA's effective date. Brief for Petitioner in Hohn v. United States, O. T. 1997, No. 96-8986, pp. 40-44. Though our opinion did not discuss whether 2253(c) applied to Hohn, we would have had no reason to reach the issue we did resolve, that we had statutory certiorari jurisdiction to review the denial of a COA, if AEDPA did not apply at all. Our disposition today is consistent with Hohn. AEDPA governs the conditions of Slack's appeal, and so he was required to seek a COA to obtain appellate review of the dismissal of his habeas petition.

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