Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 7 (2002)

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220

CAREY v. SAFFOLD

Opinion of the Court

review process is "in continuance"—i. e., "until the completion of" that process. In other words, until the application has achieved final resolution through the State's post-conviction procedures, by definition it remains "pending."

California's reading would also produce a serious statutory anomaly. A federal habeas petitioner must exhaust state remedies before he can obtain federal habeas relief. The statute makes clear that a federal petitioner has not exhausted those remedies as long as he maintains "the right under the law of the State to raise" in that State, "by any available procedure, the question presented." 28 U. S. C. 2254(c). We have interpreted this latter provision to require the federal habeas petitioner to "invok[e] one complete round of the State's established appellate review process." O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U. S. 838, 845 (1999). The exhaustion requirement serves AEDPA's goal of promoting "comity, finality, and federalism," Williams v. Taylor, 529 U. S. 420, 436 (2000), by giving state courts "the first opportunity to review [the] claim," and to "correct" any "constitutional violation in the first instance." Boerckel, supra, at 844-845. And AEDPA's limitations period—with its accompanying tolling provision—ensures the achievement of this goal because it "promotes the exhaustion of state remedies while respecting the interest in the finality of state court judgments." Duncan v. Walker, 533 U. S. 167, 178 (2001). California's interpretation violates these principles by encouraging state prisoners to file federal habeas petitions before the State completes a full round of collateral review. This would lead to great uncertainty in the federal courts, requiring them to contend with habeas petitions that are in one sense unlawful (because the claims have not been exhausted) but in another sense required by law (because they would otherwise be barred by the 1-year statute of limitations).

It is therefore not surprising that no circuit court has interpreted the word "pending" in the manner proposed by

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