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BALDWIN v. REESE, 541 U.S. 27

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BALDWIN v. REESE

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

No. 02-964. Argued December 8, 2003--Decided March 2, 2004

Before seeking federal habeas relief, a state prisoner must exhaust available state remedies, 28 U. S. C. §2254(b)(1), giving the State the " 'opportunity to ... correct' alleged violations of its prisoners' federal rights," Duncan v. Henry, 513 U. S. 364, 365, which means he must "fairly present" his claim in each appropriate state court to alert that court to the claim's federal nature. After respondent Reese appealed his state convictions and sentences and the lower state courts denied him collateral relief, the Oregon Supreme Court denied him discretionary review. His subsequent federal habeas petition raised, inter alia, a federal constitutional ineffective-assistance-of-appellate-counsel claim. The Federal District Court held that Reese had not "fairly presented" this claim to the state courts because his state appeals court brief had not indicated that he was complaining about a federal law violation. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding the "fair presentation" requirement satisfied because the State Supreme Court justices had had the opportunity to read the lower court decision before deciding whether to grant discretionary review. And, had they read that opinion, they would have, or should have, realized that his claim rested upon federal law.

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. 3-6.


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