Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214 (2002)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 01-301. Argued February 27, 2002—Decided June 17, 2002

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 requires a state prisoner seeking federal habeas relief to file his petition within one year after his state conviction becomes final, 28 U. S. C. 2244(d)(1)(A), but excludes from that period the time during which an application for state collateral review is "pending," 2244(d)(2). Respondent Saffold filed a state habeas petition in California seven days before the federal deadline. Five days after the state trial court denied his petition, he filed a further petition in the State Court of Appeal. Four and one-half months after that petition was denied, he filed a further petition in the State Supreme Court, which denied the petition on the merits and for lack of diligence. The Federal District Court dismissed his subsequent federal habeas petition as untimely, finding that the federal statute of limitations was not tolled during the intervals between the denial of one state petition and the filing of the next because no application was "pending" during that time. In reversing, the Ninth Circuit included the intervals in the "pending" period, and found that Saffold's petition was timely because the State Supreme Court based its decision not only on lack of diligence but also on the merits.


1. As used in 2244(d)(2), "pending" covers the time between a lower state court's decision and the filing of a notice of appeal to a higher state court. Most States' collateral review systems require a prisoner to file a petition in a trial court; then to file a notice of appeal within a specified time after entry of the trial court's unfavorable judgment; and, if still unsuccessful, to file a further notice of appeal (or request for discretionary review) to the state supreme court within a specified time. Petitioner warden seeks a uniform national rule that a state petition is not "pending" during the interval between a lower court's entry of judgment and the timely filing of a notice of appeal in the next court, reasoning that the petition is not being considered during that time. Such a reading is not consistent with the ordinary meaning of "pending," which, in the present context, means until the completion of the collateral review process; i. e., until the application has achieved final resolution through the State's postconviction proceedings. Petitioner's reading

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