Lee v. Kemna, 534 U.S. 362, 13 (2002)

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Opinion of the Court

serted that prosecutorial misconduct, not anything over which he had control, prompted the need for a continuance. Id., at 148, 155-156.

The District Court denied the writ. No. 98-0074-CV-W- 6-P (WD Mo., Apr. 19, 1999), App. 212-218. The witnesses' affidavits were not cognizable in federal habeas proceedings, the court held, because Lee could have offered them to the state courts but failed to do so. Id., at 215 (citing 28 U. S. C. 2254(e) (1994 ed., Supp. V)). The Federal District Court went on to reject Lee's continuance claim, finding in the Missouri Court of Appeals' invocation of Rule 24.10 an adequate and independent state-law ground barring further review. App. 217.

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability, limited to the question whether Lee's "due process rights were violated by the state trial court's failure to allow him a continuance," id., at 232, and affirmed the denial of Lee's habeas petition. 213 F. 3d 1037 (2000) (per curiam). Federal review of Lee's due process claim would be unavailable, the court correctly observed, if the state court's rejection of that claim " 'rest[ed] . . . on a state law ground that is independent of the federal question and adequate to support the judgment,' regardless of 'whether the state law ground is substantive or procedural.' " Id., at 1038 (quoting Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722, 729 (1991)). "The Missouri Court of Appeals rejected Lee's claim because his motion for a continuance did not comply with [Rules] 24.09 and 24.10," the Eighth Circuit next stated. Thus, that court concluded, "the claim was procedurally defaulted." 213 F. 3d, at 1038.7

7 Lee had asked the federal appeals court to excuse the procedural lapse, suggesting that trial counsel's failure to follow Missouri's motion rules qualified as ineffective assistance of counsel. Lee had not exhausted that claim in state court, the Eighth Circuit responded, therefore he could not assert it in federal habeas proceedings. 213 F. 3d, at 1038. Furthermore, the federal appeals court ruled, Lee could not rest on a plea of

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