Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 6 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 214 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

underlying federal constitutional questions raised." Id., at 1267.

We granted certiorari. We now vacate the judgment and remand the case.


In most States, relevant state law sets forth some version of the following collateral review procedures. First, the prisoner files a petition in a state court of first instance, typically a trial court. Second, a petitioner seeking to appeal from the trial court's judgment must file a notice of appeal within, say, 30 or 45 days after entry of the trial court's judgment. See, e. g., Ala. Rule App. Proc. 4 (2001); Colo. App. Rule 4(b)(1) (2001); Ky. Rule Crim. Proc. 12.04(3) (2002). Third, a petitioner seeking further review of an appellate court's judgment must file a further notice of appeal to the state supreme court (or seek that court's discretionary review) within a short period of time, say, 20 or 30 days, after entry of the court of appeals judgment. See, e. g., Ala. Rule App. Proc. 5 (2001); Colo. Rev. Stat. 13-4-108 (2001); Conn. Rule App. Proc. 80-1 (2002); Ky. Rule Civ. Proc. 76.20(2)(b) (2002). California argues here for a "uniform national rule" to the effect that an application for state collateral review is not "pending" in the state courts during the interval between a lower court's entry of judgment and the timely filing of a notice of appeal (or petition for review) in the next court. Brief for Petitioner 36. Its rationale is that, during this period of time, the petition is not under court consideration.

California's reading of the word "pending," however, is not consistent with that word's ordinary meaning. The dictionary defines "pending" (when used as an adjective) as "in continuance" or "not yet decided." Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1669 (1993). It similarly defines the term (when used as a preposition) as "through the period of continuance . . . of," "until the . . . completion of." Ibid. That definition, applied in the present context, means that an application is pending as long as the ordinary state collateral


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