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Name: Lambright v. Stewart
Case #: 96-99020
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/06/2001
Subsequent History: None
Summary

The district court had rejected a habeas claim of ineffective assistance on the ground that petitioner had failed to raise it on direct appeal, which was an independent state ground for rejecting the claim. The Court of Appeals held that the rule requiring the issue be raised on appeal did not bar federal habeas relief because it was so unclear that it did not provide petitioner with a fair opportunity to seek relief in state court. No Arizona case at the time required ineffective assistance claims be raised on direct appeal. Additionally, the state court order did not clearly rest upon a procedural bar. Instead, it alternately rested upon preclusion because the Arizona Supreme Court had rejected them. The Court agreed that the petitioner had made an adequate showing that trial counsel failed to investigate his psychiatric condition and present mitigating psychiatric testimony at sentencing.