Lee v. Kemna, 534 U.S. 362, 12 (2002)

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Cite as: 534 U. S. 362 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

"Thus," the Court of Appeals said, "the trial court could have properly denied the motion for a failure to comply with Rule 24.09." Id., at 127. Even assuming the adequacy of Lee's oral motion, the court continued, the application "was made without the factual showing required by Rule 24.10." Ibid. The court did not say which components of Rule 24.10 were unsatisfied. "When a denial to grant a motion for continuance is based on a deficient application," the Court of Appeals next said, "it does not constitute an abuse of discretion." Ibid. Lee's subsequent motions for rehearing and transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court were denied.

In January 1998, Lee, proceeding pro se, filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Id., at 132. Lee once again challenged the denial of his continuance motion. Id., at 147-152. He appended affidavits from the three witnesses, each of whom swore to Lee's alibi; sister, mother, and stepfather alike stated that they had left the courthouse while the trial was underway because a court officer told them their testimony would not be needed that day. Id., at 168-174.6 Lee maintained that the State had engineered the witnesses' departure; accordingly, he assetting forth the facts upon which the application is based, unless the adverse party consents that the application for continuance may be made orally."

6 The witnesses' accounts of their departure from the courthouse were as follows:

Laura Lee: "[T]hose people in Missouri told us we could leave because OUR TESTIMONY would not be needed until the next day." App. 169.

Gladys Edwards: "[T]he officer of the court came and told us that the prosecutor stated that the state[']s case will again take up the remainder of that day. That [o]ur testimony will not be needed until the following day, that we could leave until the following day. He . . . told [u]s not to worry, the Judge knows [w]e came to testify, they have [o]ur statements, and the trial will not be over until we testify. So at those instructions we left." Id., at 172.

James Edwards: "[W]hile at the [c]ourthouse, we were told by an officer of the court that [o]ur testimony would not be needed until the following day, we were excused until then." Id., at 174.


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