Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 8 (2003)

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Cite as: 537 U. S. 522 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

16, 23 (1983) (quoting United States v. Wong Kim Bo, 472 F. 2d 720, 722 (CA5 1972)). Invoking the maxim recited in Russello, amicus asserts that "becomes final" in 2255,

¶ 6(1), cannot mean the same thing as "became final" in 2244(d)(1)(A); reading the two as synonymous, amicus maintains, would render superfluous the words "by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review"—words found only in the latter provision. DeBruin Brief 8-20. We can give effect to the discrete wording of the two prescriptions, amicus urges, if we adopt the following rule: When a convicted defendant does not seek certiorari on direct review, 2255's limitation period starts to run on the date the court of appeals issues its mandate. Id., at 36.4

Amicus would have a stronger argument if 2255, ¶ 6(1), explicitly incorporated the first of 2244(d)(1)(A)'s finality formulations but not the second, so that the 2255 text read "becomes final by the conclusion of direct review." Had 2255 explicitly provided for the first of the two finality triggers set forth in 2244(d)(1)(A), one might indeed question the soundness of interpreting 2255 implicitly to incorporate 2244(d)(1)(A)'s second trigger as well. As written, however, 2255 does not qualify "becomes final" at all. Using neither of the disjunctive phrases that follow the words "be-came final" in 2244(d)(1)(A), 2255 simply leaves "becomes final" undefined.

Russello, we think it plain, hardly warrants the decision amicus urges, one that would hold the 2255 petitioner to

4 Although recognizing that "the question is not presented in this case," Tr. of Oral Arg. 27, amicus suggests that 2255's limitation period starts to run upon issuance of the court of appeals' mandate even in cases in which the defendant does petition for certiorari. Id., at 27-28, 36-38, 41- 42. As amicus also recognizes, however, id., at 41, courts of appeals "have uniformly concluded that, if a prisoner petitions for certiorari, the contested conviction becomes final when the Supreme Court either denies the writ or issues a decision on the merits," United States v. Hicks, 283 F. 3d 380, 387 (CADC 2002).


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