Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 10 (2002)

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

Opinion of the Court

sion of the more specific appellate filing periods prevalent in other States. And exclusion of those periods in California would undermine AEDPA's statutory goals just as it would in those States. See Part II, supra.

The fact that California's timeliness standard is general rather than precise may make it more difficult for federal courts to determine just when a review application (i. e., a filing in a higher court) comes too late. But it is the State's interests that the tolling provision seeks to protect, and the State, through its supreme court decisions or legislation, can explicate timing requirements more precisely should that prove necessary.

Ordinarily, for purposes of applying a federal statute that interacts with state procedural rules, we look to how a state procedure functions, rather than the particular name that it bears. See Richfield Oil Corp. v. State Bd. of Equalization, 329 U. S. 69, 72 (1946) (looking to function rather than "desig-nation" that state law gives a state-court judgment for purposes of determining federal jurisdiction); Department of Banking of Neb. v. Pink, 317 U. S. 264, 268 (1942) (per curiam) (same). We find that California's system functions in ways sufficiently like other state systems of collateral review to bring intervals between a lower court decision and a filing of a new petition in a higher court within the scope of the statutory word "pending."

The dissent contends that this application of the federal tolling provision to California's "original writ" system "will disrupt the sound operation of the federal limitations period in at least 36 States." Post, at 227 (opinion of Kennedy, J.). This is so, the dissent believes, because the prisoner is given two choices when his petition has been denied by the intermediate court: He can file a "petition for hearing" in the supreme court within 10 days, or he can file a "new petition" in the supreme court. In re Reed, 33 Cal. 3d 914, 918, and n. 2, 663 P. 2d 216, 217, and n. 2 (1983). Why is California different, the dissent asks, from "appeal" States that also


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