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Procedural Default and Martinez v. Ryan (2012) 566 U.S. 1

Case Name: Shinn v. Ramirez (2022) __ U.S. __ [142 S.Ct. 1718]
Case #: 20-1009
Last Updated: May 23, 2022

Does application of the equitable rule the U.S. Supreme Court announced in Martinez v. Ryan (2012) 566 U.S. 1 render 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) inapplicable to a federal court’s merits review of a claim for habeas relief?


A federal habeas court generally may consider a state prisoner’s federal claim only if he has first presented that claim to the state court in accordance with state procedures. When the prisoner has failed to do so, and the state court would dismiss the claim on that basis, the claim is “procedurally defaulted.” To overcome procedural default, the prisoner must demonstrate “cause” to excuse the procedural defect and “actual prejudice” if the federal court were to decline to hear his claim. Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722, 750, 111 S. Ct. 2546, 115 L. Ed. 2d 640 (1991). In Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U. S. 1, 132 S. Ct. 1309, 182 L. Ed. 2d 272 (2012), this Court explained that ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel is “cause” to forgive procedural default of an ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim, but only if the State required the prisoner to raise that claim for the first time during state postconviction proceedings.

Often, a prisoner with a defaulted claim will ask a federal habeas court not only to consider his claim but also to permit him to introduce new evidence to support it. Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), the standard to expand the state-court record is a stringent one. If a prisoner has “failed to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings,” a federal court “shall not hold an evidentiary hearing on the claim” unless the prisoner satisfies one of two narrow exceptions, see 28 U. S. C. § 2254(e)(2)(A), and demonstrates that the new evidence will establish his innocence “by clear and convincing evidence,” § 2254(e)(2)(B). In all but these extraordinary cases, AEDPA “bars evidentiary hearings in federal habeas proceedings initiated by state prisoners.” McQuiggin v. Perkins, 569 U. S. 383, 395, 133 S. Ct. 1924, 185 L. Ed. 2d 1019 (2013).

The question presented is whether the equitable rule announced in Martinez permits a federal court to dispense with § 2254(e)(2)’s narrow limits because a prisoner’s state postconviction counsel negligently failed to develop the state-court record. We conclude that it does not.

This case was decided on 5/23/2022.


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