|BALDWIN V. REESE (02-964) 541 U.S. 27 (2004)
282 F.3d 1184, reversed.
[ Breyer ]
[ Stevens ]
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.
BALDWIN v. REESE
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
Before seeking federal habeas relief, a state
prisoner must exhaust available state remedies, 28 U.S.C. §
2254(b)(1), giving the State the
Held: A state prisoner ordinarily does not fairly present a federal claim to a state court if that court must read beyond a petition, a brief, or similar papers to find material that will alert it to the presence of such a claim. Pp. 36.
(a) Assuming that Reeses petition by itself did not properly alert the State Supreme Court to the federal nature of his claim, Reese failed to meet the fair presentation standard. To say that a petitioner fairly presents a federal claim when an appellate judge can discover that claim only by reading the lower court opinions is to say that those judges must read those opinionsfor otherwise they would forfeit the States opportunity to decide the claim in the first instance. Federal habeas law does not impose such a requirement. That requirement would force state appellate judges to alter their ordinary review practices, since they do not necessarily read lower court opinions in every case. And it would impose a serious burden upon those judges with discretionary review powers, whose heavy workloads would be significantly increased if they had to read through lower court opinions or briefs in every instance. Finally, the requirement is unnecessary to avoid imposing unreasonable procedural burdens upon state prisoners who may eventually seek federal habeas. A litigant can easily indicate his claims federal law basis in a petition or brief, for example, by citing to the federal source of law on which he relies or simply labeling the claim federal. Pp. 35.
(b) This Court is not wrong to assume that Reeses petition by itself failed to alert the State Supreme Court to his claims federal nature. He must concede that his petition does not explicitly say that ineffective assistance of appellate counsel refers to a federal claim, cite any case that might have alerted the court to his claims alleged federal nature, or even contain a factual description supporting his claim. Reese asserts that the petition nonetheless fairly presents a federal ineffective assistance claim because (1) ineffective is a term of art in Oregon that refers only to federal law claims, and (2) the state law standards for adjudicating state and federal inadequate/ineffective appellate assistance claims are identical. This Court rejects his first argument because he has not demonstrated that state law uses ineffective assistance as referring only to a federal law, rather than a similar state law, claim. However, Reeses second argument was not addressed by, or presented to, the Ninth Circuit, and first appeared here in Reeses merits brief. Because the issue is complex and lower court consideration would help in its resolution, the Court, without expressing any view on the issues merits, exercises its Rule 15.2 discretion and deems the argument waived. Pp. 56.
282 F.3d 1184, reversed.
Breyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and OConnor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion.