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SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
OCTOBER TERM, 1991
KEENEY, SUPERINTENDENT, OREGON STATE
PENITENTIARY V. TAMAYO-REYES
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE NINTH CIRCUIT
No. 90–1859. Argued January 15, 1992—Decided May 4, 1992 In collateral state-court proceedings, respondent, a Cuban immigrant with
little education and almost no knowledge of English, alleged, inter alia, that his plea of nolo contendere to first-degree manslaughter had not been knowing and intelligent and therefore was invalid because his court-appointed translator had not translated accurately and completely for him the mens rea element of the crime in question. The state court dismissed the petition after a hearing, the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed, the State Supreme Court denied review, and the Federal District Court denied respondent habeas corpus relief. However, the Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to a federal evidentiary hearing on the question whether the mens rea element of the crime was properly explained to him, since the record disclosed that the material facts concerning the translation were not adequately developed at the state-court hearing, see Townsend v. Sain, 372 U. S. 293, 313, and since postconviction counsel's negligent failure to develop those facts did not constitute a deliberate bypass of the orderly procedure of the state
courts, see id., at 317; Fay v. Noia, 372 U. S. 391, 438. Held: A cause-and-prejudice standard, rather than Fay's deliberate by
pass standard, is the correct standard for excusing a habeas petitioner's failure to develop a material fact in state-court proceedings. Townsend's holding that the Fay standard is applicable in a case like this must be overruled in light of more recent decisions involving, like Fay, a
state procedural default, in which this Court has rejected the deliberate bypass standard in favor of a standard of cause and prejudice. See, e. g., Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U. S. 72, 87–88, and n. 12; Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722, 751. It would be irrational to distinguish between failing to properly assert a federal claim in state court and failing in state court to properly develop such a claim, and to apply to the latter a remnant of a decision that is no longer upheld with regard to the former. Moreover, the concerns of finality, comity, judicial economy, and channeling the resolution of claims into the most appropriate forum that motivated the rejection of the Fay standard in the state procedural default cases are equally applicable to this case. Finally, applying the cause-and-prejudice standard here also advances uniformity in habeas corpus law. Thus, respondent is entitled to a federal evidentiary hearing if he can show cause for his failure to develop the facts in the statecourt proceedings and actual prejudice resulting from that failure, or if he can show that a fundamental miscarriage of justice would result from failure to hold such a hearing. See, e. g., McCleskey v. Zant, 499 U. S.
467, 494. Pp. 5–12. 926 F. 2d 1492, reversed and remanded.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and SCALIA, SOUTER, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. O'CONNOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined, post, p. 12. KENNEDY, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 24.
Jack L. Landau, Deputy Attorney General of Oregon, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Charles S. Crookham, Attorney General, Dave Frohnmayer, Former Attorney General, Virginia L. Linder, Solicitor General, and Brenda J. Peterson and Rives Kistler, Assistant Attorneys General.
Steven T. Wax argued the cause and filed a brief for respondent.*
*Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the State of California et al. by Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General of California, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, John H. Sugiyama, Senior Assistant Attorney General, and Dane R. Gillette and Joan Killeen Haller, Deputy Attorneys General, and by the Attorneys General for their respective States as follows: James H. Evans of Alabama, Grant
Woods of Arizona, Larry Echo Hawk of Idaho, Marc Racicot of Montana, | Frankie Sue Del Papa of Nevada, Robert J. Del Tufo of New Jersey, Lacy
Opinion of the Court
JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent is a Cuban immigrant with little education and almost no knowledge of English. In 1984, he was charged with murder arising from the stabbing death of a man who had allegedly attempted to intervene in a confrontation between respondent and his girlfriend in a bar.
Respondent was provided with a defense attorney and interpreter. The attorney recommended to respondent that he plead nolo contendere to first-degree manslaughter. Ore. Rev. Stat. § 163.118(1)(a) (1987). Respondent signed a plea form that explained in English the rights he was waiving by entering the plea. The state court held a plea hearing, at which petitioner was represented by counsel and his interpreter. The judge asked the attorney and interpreter if they had explained to respondent the rights in the plea form and the consequences of his plea; they responded in the affirmative. The judge then explained to respondent, in English, the rights he would waive by his plea, and asked the interpreter to translate. Respondent indicated that he understood his rights and still wished to plead nolo contendere. The judge accepted his plea.
Later, respondent brought a collateral attack on the plea in a state-court proceeding. He alleged his plea had not been knowing and intelligent and therefore was invalid because his translator had not translated accurately and completely for him the mens rea element of manslaughter. He also contended that he did not understand the purposes of the plea form or the plea hearing. He contended that he did not know he was pleading no contest to manslaughter, but rather that he thought he was agreeing to be tried for manslaughter.
H. Thornburg of North Carolina, Ernest D. Preate, Jr., of Pennsylvania, Charles W. Burson of Tennessee, and Kenneth O. Eikenberry of Washington; and for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation by Kent S. Scheidegger.