The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) establishes a 1-year time limitation for a state prisoner to file a federal habeas corpus petition. That year runs from the latest of four specified dates. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). This case involves the date provided by § 2244(d)(1)(A), which is "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." Petitioner contends that "the date on which the judgment became final" can be postponed by a state court's decision during collateral review to grant a defendant the right to file an out-of-time direct appeal. The District Court disagreed, holding instead that the date could not be moved to reflect the out-of-time appeal, and that petitioner's federal habeas petition was untimely for that reason. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. See § 2253(c). We now reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
After petitioner was sentenced for burglary in 1995, his attorney filed an appellate brief with the Texas Court of Appeals pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), explaining that he was unable to identify any nonfrivolous ground on which to base an appeal.
Petitioner eventually learned that his appeal had been dismissed. He filed an application in state court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Tex.Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 11.07 (Vernon 1977), arguing that he was denied his right to a meaningful appeal when he was denied the opportunity to file a pro se brief. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed and, on September 25, 2002, granted petitioner the right to file an out-of-time appeal:
Petitioner thereafter filed the out-of-time appeal. His conviction was affirmed. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied discretionary review on October 8, 2003. Time for seeking certiorari review of that decision with this Court expired on January 6, 2004. On December 6, 2004, petitioner filed a second application for a writ of habeas corpus in state court; it was denied on June 29, 2005.
Petitioner then filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus on July 19, 2005. To establish the timeliness of his petition, he relied on 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A), which provides "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review" as the trigger for AEDPA's 1-year limitations period. Petitioner argued that his judgment thus became final on January 6, 2004,
With January 6, 2004, as the start date, petitioner contended that his July 19, 2005, petition was timely because the statute excludes from the 1-year limitations period "[t]he time during which a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending." § 2244(d)(2). Petitioner had a state habeas application pending from December 6, 2004, through June 29, 2005, so less than one year of included time — specifically, 355 days — passed between January 6, 2004, and July 19, 2005.
The District Court disagreed and dismissed the federal habeas petition as time barred. In the District Court's view, the proper start date for AEDPA's 1-year limitations period was October 11, 1996, when time for seeking discretionary review of the decision in petitioner's first direct appeal expired. The District Court concluded that it could not take into account the Texas court's later decision reopening petitioner's direct appeal because Circuit precedent established that "`AEDPA provides for only a linear limitations period, one that starts and ends on specific dates, with only the possibility that tolling will expand the period in between.'" Order, Civ. Action No. 6:05-CV-05-C (ND Tex., Oct. 23, 2006), App. 75, 90 (quoting Salinas v. Dretke, 354 F.3d 425, 429 (C.A.5 2004)). Therefore, the District Court reasoned, the limitations period began on October 11, 1996, and ended on October 11, 1997, because petitioner had not sought any state or federal collateral review by that date.
The Court of Appeals denied petitioner's request for a certificate of appealability, finding that he had "failed to demonstrate that reasonable jurists would debate the correctness of the district court's conclusion that the § 2254 petition is time-barred." Order, No. 06-11240, (May 25, 2007), App. 124, 125. We granted certiorari, 552 U.S. 1256, 128 S.Ct. 1646, 170 L.Ed.2d 352 (2008), and now reverse and remand for further proceedings.
As with any question of statutory interpretation, our analysis begins with the plain language of the statute. Lamie v. United States Trustee, 540 U.S. 526, 534, 124 S.Ct. 1023, 157 L.Ed.2d 1024 (2004). It is well established that, when the statutory language is plain, we must enforce it according to its terms. See, e.g., Dodd v. United States, 545 U.S. 353, 359, 125 S.Ct. 2478, 162 L.Ed.2d 343 (2005); Lamie, supra, at 534, 124 S.Ct. 1023; Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Union Planters Bank, N. A., 530 U.S. 1, 6, 120 S.Ct. 1942, 147 L.Ed.2d 1 (2000); Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470, 485, 37 S.Ct. 192, 61 S.Ct. 442 (1917).
The parties agree that the statutory provision that determines the timeliness of petitioner's habeas petition is 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). That subsection defines the starting date for purposes of the 1-year AEDPA limitations period as "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." The only disputed question before us is whether the date on which direct review became "final" under the statute is October 11, 1996, when petitioner's conviction initially became final, or January 6, 2004, when the out-of-time appeal granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals became final. We agree with petitioner that, under the plain meaning of the statutory text, the latter date controls.
Finality is a concept that has been "variously defined; like many legal terms, its precise meaning depends on context." Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 527, 123 S.Ct. 1072, 155 L.Ed.2d 88 (2003). But here, the finality of a state-court judgment is expressly defined by statute as "the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." § 2244(d)(1)(A).
With respect to postconviction relief for federal prisoners, this Court has held that the conclusion of direct review occurs when "this Court affirms a conviction on the merits on direct review or denies a petition for a writ of certiorari." Id., at 527, 528-532, 123 S.Ct. 1072 (interpreting § 2255, ¶ 6(1)). We have further held that if the federal prisoner chooses not to seek direct review in this Court, then the conviction becomes final when "the time for filing a certiorari petition expires." Id., at 527, 123 S.Ct. 1072. In construing the similar language of § 2244(d)(1)(A), we see no reason to depart from this settled understanding, which comports with the most natural reading of the statutory text. See Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327, 332-335, 127 S.Ct. 1079, 166 L.Ed.2d 924 (2007) (citing Clay, supra, at 528, n. 3, 123 S.Ct. 1072). As a result, direct review cannot conclude for purposes of § 2244(d)(1)(A) until the "availability of direct appeal to the state courts," Caspari v. Bohlen, 510 U.S. 383, 390, 114 S.Ct. 948, 127 L.Ed.2d 236 (1994), and to this Court, Lawrence, supra, at 332-333, 127 S.Ct. 1079, has been exhausted. Until that time, the "process of direct review" has not "com[e] to an end" and "a presumption of finality and legality" cannot yet have "attache[d] to the
Under the statutory definition, therefore, once the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reopened direct review of petitioner's conviction on September 25, 2002,
Respondent objects, observing that the Court has previously acknowledged Congress' intent "to advance the finality of criminal convictions" with the "tight time line" of § 2244(d)(1)(A), Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 662, 125 S.Ct. 2562, 162 L.Ed.2d 582 (2005), which "pinpoint[s]" a uniform federal date of finality that does not "vary from State to State," Clay, supra, at 530, 531, 123 S.Ct. 1072. In respondent's view, permitting a state court to reopen direct review, and thus reset AEDPA's 1-year limitations period, undermines the policy of finality that Congress established in § 2244(d)(1). But it is the plain language of § 2244(d)(1) that pinpoints the uniform date of finality set by Congress. And that language points to the conclusion of direct appellate proceedings in state court. The statute thus carries out "AEDPA's goal of promoting `comity, finality, and federalism' by giving state courts `the first opportunity to review [the] claim,' and to `correct' any `constitutional violation in the first instance.'" Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 220, 122 S.Ct. 2134, 153 L.Ed.2d 260 (2002) (quoting Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 436, 120 S.Ct. 1479, 146 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 844-845, 119 S.Ct. 1728, 144 L.Ed.2d 1 (1999); citation omitted). The statute requires a federal court, presented with an individual's first petition for habeas relief, to make use of the date on which the entirety of the state direct appellate review process was completed. Here, that date was January 6, 2004.
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Our decision today is a narrow one. We hold that, where a state court grants a criminal defendant the right to file an out-of-time direct appeal during state collateral review, but before the defendant has first sought federal habeas relief, his judgment is not yet "final" for purposes of § 2244(d)(1)(A). In such a case, "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review" must reflect the conclusion of the out-of-time
It is so ordered.