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Opinion of the Court
After a hearing, the state court dismissed respondent's petition, finding that respondent was properly served by his trial interpreter and that the interpreter correctly, fully, and accurately translated the communications between respondent and his attorney. App. 51. The State Court of Appeals affirmed, and the State Supreme Court denied review.
Respondent then entered Federal District Court seeking a writ of habeas corpus. Respondent contended that the material facts concerning the translation were not adequately developed at the state-court hearing, implicating the fifth circumstance of Townsend v. Sain, 372 U. S. 293, 313 (1963), and sought a federal evidentiary hearing on whether his nolo contendere plea was unconstitutional. The District Court found that the failure to develop the critical facts relevant to his federal claim was attributable to inexcusable neglect and that no evidentiary hearing was required. App. to Pet. for Cert. 37, 38. Respondent appealed.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recognized that the alleged failure to translate the mens rea element of firstdegree manslaughter, if proved, would be a basis for overturning respondent's plea, 926 F. 2d 1492, 1494 (1991), and determined that material facts had not been adequately developed in the state postconviction court, id., at 1500, apparently due to the negligence of postconviction counsel. The court held that Townsend v. Sain, supra, at 317, and Fay v. Noia, 372 U. S. 391, 438 (1963), required an evidentiary hearing in the District Court unless respondent had deliberately bypassed the orderly procedure of the state courts. Because counsel's negligent failure to develop the facts did not constitute a deliberate bypass, the Court of Appeals ruled that respondent was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the question whether the mens rea element of first-degree manslaughter was properly explained to him. 926 F. 2d, at 1502.
1 With respect to respondent's claim that the plea form and plea proceeding were not adequately translated, the Court of Appeals concluded that state postconviction proceedings afforded petitioner ample opportunity to
Opinion of the Court
We granted certiorari to decide whether the deliberate bypass standard is the correct standard for excusing a habeas petitioner's failure to develop a material fact in state-court proceedings. 502 U. S. 807 (1991). We reverse.
Because the holding of Townsend v. Sain that Fay v. Noia's deliberate bypass standard is applicable in a case like this had not been reversed, it is quite understandable that the Court of Appeals applied that standard in this case. However, in light of more recent decisions of this Court, Townsend's holding in this respect must be overruled.2 Fay v.
contest the translations, that the material facts surrounding these issues were adequately developed, and that the state court's findings were adequately supported by the record. The Court of Appeals therefore held that a federal evidentiary hearing on that claim was not required. 926 F. 2d, at 1502.
2 JUSTICE O'CONNOR asserts that Townsend v. Sain, 372 U. S. 293 (1963), insofar as relevant to this case, merely reflected existing law. The claim thus seems to be that the general rule stated by the Court in Townsend governing when an evidentiary hearing must be granted to a federal habeas corpus petitioner, as well as each of the Court's six criteria particularizing its general pronouncement, reflected what was to be found in prior holdings of the Court. This is a very doubtful claim. Surely the Court at that time did not think this was the case, for it pointedly observed that prior cases had not settled all aspects of the hearing problem in habeas proceedings and that the lower federal courts had reached widely divergent and irreconcilable results in dealing with hearing issues. Id., at 310, and n. 8. Hence it deemed it advisable to give further guidance to the lower courts. It also expressly stated that the rules it was announcing “must be considered to supersede, to the extent of any inconsistencies, the opinions in Brown v. Allen[, 344 U. S. 443 (1953)].” Id., at 312. This was necessary because Brown was inconsistent with the holding of Townsend regarding habeas petitioners who failed to adequately develop federal claims in state-court proceedings. See Brown v. Allen, 344 U. S. 443, 465 (1953) (federal court may deny writ without rehearing of facts "where the legality of [the] detention has been determined, on the facts presented,” by the state court) (emphasis added); id., at 463 (writ should be refused, without more, if federal court satisfied from the record that "state process has given fair consideration to the issues and the offered evidence") (emphasis added). We have unequivocally acknowledged that Townsend substantially changed the availability of evidentiary hearings in federal
Opinion of the Court
Noia was itself a case where the habeas petitioner had not taken advantage of state remedies by failing to appeal—a procedural default case. Since that time, however, this Court has rejected the deliberate bypass standard in state procedural default cases and has applied instead a standard of cause and prejudice.
In Francis v. Henderson, 425 U. S. 536 (1976), we acknowledged a federal court's power to entertain an application for habeas even where the claim has been procedurally waived in state proceedings, but nonetheless examined the appropriateness of the exercise of that power and recognized, as we had in Fay, that considerations of comity and concerns for the orderly administration of criminal justice may in some circumstances require a federal court to forgo the exercise of its habeas corpus power. 425 U. S., at 538–539. We held that a federal habeas petitioner is required to show cause for his procedural default, as well as actual prejudice. Id., at 542.
In Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U. S. 72 (1977), we rejected the application of Fay's standard of “knowing waiver" or “deliberate bypass” to excuse a petitioner's failure to comply with a state contemporaneous-objection rule, stating that the state rule deserved more respect than the Fay standard accorded it. 433 U. S., at 88. We observed that procedural rules that contribute to error-free state trial proceedings are thoroughly desirable. We applied a cause-and-prejudice standard to a petitioner's failure to object at trial and limited
habeas proceedings. See Smith v. Yeager, 393 U. S. 122, 125 (1968) (per curiam).
It is not surprising, then, that none of the cases cited by JUSTICE O'CONNOR remotely support Townsend's requirement for a hearing in any case where the "material facts were not adequately developed at the statecourt hearing” due to petitioner's own neglect. 372 U. S., at 313. Finally, it is undeniable that Fay v. Noia's deliberate bypass standard overruled prior procedural default cases, and it is no less true that Townsend's adoption of that standard as a definition of "inexcusable neglect" made new law.
Opinion of the Court
Fay to its facts. 433 U. S., at 87–88, and n. 12. We have consistently reaffirmed that the “cause-and-prejudice” standard embodies the correct accommodation between the competing concerns implicated in a federal court's habeas power. Reed v. Ross, 468 U. S. 1, 11 (1984); Engle v. Isaac, 456 U. S. 107, 129 (1982).
In McCleskey v. Zant, 499 U. S. 467 (1991), we held that the same standard used to excuse state procedural defaults should be applied in habeas corpus cases where abuse of the writ is claimed by the government. Id., at 493. This conclusion rested on the fact that the two doctrines are similar in purpose and design and implicate similar concerns. Id., at 493–494. The writ strikes at finality of a state criminal conviction, a matter of particular importance in a federal system. Id., at 491, citing Murray v. Carrier, 477 U. S. 478, 487 (1986). Federal habeas litigation also places a heavy burden on scarce judicial resources, may give litigants incentives to withhold claims for manipulative purposes, and may create disincentives to present claims when evidence is fresh. 499 U. S., at 491–492. See also Reed v. Ross, supra, at 13; Wainwright, supra, at 89.
Again addressing the issue of state procedural default in Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722 (1991), we described Fay as based on a conception of federal/state relations that undervalued the importance of state procedural rules, 501 U. S., at 750, and went on to hold that the cause-andprejudice standard applicable to failure to raise a particular claim should apply as well to failure to appeal at all. Ibid. "All of the State's interests—in channeling the resolution of claims to the most appropriate forum, in finality, and in having an opportunity to correct its own errors—are implicated whether a prisoner defaults one claim or all of them.” Id., at 750. We therefore applied the cause-and-prejudice standard uniformly to state procedural defaults, eliminating the “irrational” distinction between Fay and subsequent cases. 501 U. S., at 751. In light of these decisions, it is similarly
Opinion of the Court
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.
The concerns that motivated the rejection of the deliberate bypass standard in Wainwright, Coleman, and other cases are equally applicable to this case. As in cases of state procedural default, application of the cause-andprejudice standard to excuse a state prisoner's failure to develop material facts in state court will appropriately accommodate concerns of finality, comity, judicial economy, and channeling the resolution of claims into the most appropriate forum.
Applying the cause-and-prejudice standard in cases like this will obviously contribute to the finality of convictions, for requiring a federal evidentiary hearing solely on the basis of a habeas petitioner's negligent failure to develop facts in
3 JUSTICE O'CONNOR puts aside our overruling of Fay v. Noia's standard in procedural default cases on the ground that in those cases the causeand-prejudice standard is just an acceptable precondition to reaching the merits of a habeas petitioner's claim, but insists that applying that standard to cases in which the petitioner defaulted on the development of a claim is not subject to the same characterization. For the reasons stated in the text, we disagree. Moreover, JUSTICE O'CONNOR's position is considerably weakened by her concession that the cause-and-prejudice standard is properly applied to a factually undeveloped claim which had been exhausted but which is first asserted federally in a second or later habeas petition.
Contrary to JUSTICE O'CONNOR's view, post, at 17, we think it clear that the Townsend Court thought that the same standard used to deny a hearing in a procedural default case should be used to deny a hearing in cases described in its fifth circumstance. It is difficult to conceive any other reason for our borrowing the deliberate bypass standard of Fay v. Noia, particularly if, as the dissent seems to say, post, at 17, Townsend relied on, but did not repeat, the analysis found in Fay v. Noia. Yet the dissent insists that the rejection of Fay v. Noia's analysis in our later cases should have no impact on a case such as we have before us now.