Stewart v. Smith, 536 U.S. 856, 6 (2002) (per curiam)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 856 (2002)

Per Curiam

default. See App. H to Pet. for Cert. The state court explained that, because deputies in the Public Defender's office represent their clients and not their office, respondent's appellate lawyers would never have allowed "a colorable claim for ineffective assistance of counsel" to go unstated. Id., at 2. The Ninth Circuit read the reference to a "colorable claim" as a conclusion that respondent's claim that his trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance lacked merit, that is, as a comment on the merits of respondent's underlying claim. 241 F. 3d, at 1197. In context, however, it is clear that the reference to "colorable claim" was used only as a rhetorical device for emphasizing the lack of any conflict of interest that might excuse respondent's waiver.

Because the state court's determination that respondent waived his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim under Ariz. Rule Crim. Proc. 32.2(a)(3) did not require an examination of the merits of that claim, it was independent of federal law. We voice no opinion on whether respondent has provided valid cause to overcome his procedural default in state court. The Ninth Circuit's judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

So ordered.


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