Opinion of the Court
give their supreme courts the power to entertain original habeas petitions? Won't our interpretation of the federal tolling rule, as it applies to California, apply equally to those other States, meaning that even after the statutory time to appeal to the supreme court has expired, the federal limitations period may still be tolled because a prisoner might, at any time, file an original petition?
The answer to this question is "no." In "appeal" systems, the original writ plays a different role. As the Supreme Court of Idaho (one of the States cited by the dissent) explains:
"The Supreme Court, having jurisdiction to review on appeal decisions of the district courts in habeas corpus proceedings . . . will not exercise its power . . . to grant an original writ of habeas corpus, except in extraordinary cases." In re Barlow, 48 Idaho 309, 282 P. 380 (1929).
See also, e. g., Commonwealth v. Salzinger, 406 Pa. 268, 269, 177 A. 2d 619, 620 (1962) ("extraordinary circumstances" required for exercise of original jurisdiction); La Belle v. Hancock, 99 N. H. 254, 255, 108 A. 2d 545 (1954) (per curiam) ("original authority" to grant habeas relief "not ordinarily exercised"); Ex parte Lambert, 37 Tex. Crim. 435, 436, 36 S. W. 81, 82 (1896) ("[E]xcept in extraordinary cases, we will not entertain jurisdiction as a court to grant original writs of habeas corpus").
California, in contrast, has engrained original writs—both at the appellate level and in the supreme court—into its normal collateral review process. As we have explained, and as the dissent recognizes, the only avenue for a prisoner to challenge the denial of his application in the superior court is to file a "new petition" in the appellate court. And to challenge an appellate court denial, "[f]urther review [of a habeas application] may be sought in [the supreme] courtPage: Index Previous 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007