No federal constitutional provision requires a state to provide post-conviction review, and any error in this regard is simply a matter of state law and not cognizable on federal habeas review.
The inmate was convicted by the Oklahoma state of several crimes and was sentenced to 200 years’ imprisonment. His convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal while his request for state post-conviction relief was denied. On federal habeas corpus, the inmate argued that he was denied a hearing on his state application for post-conviction relief, and that his trial counsel had a conflict of interest based on a threat from a prosecution witness. The inmate also contended that his appellate counsel failed to assert claims, and that the district court did not liberally interpret his pro se claims.
Are inmates entitled to state post-conviction review under federal law?
The appellate court first held that federal law did not require state post-conviction review, and thus any denial of hearing was a matter of state law which was not cognizable under federal habeas review. Further, the inmate failed to show that his trial counsel in fact had a conflict of interest, or that the alleged conflict detrimentally affected his counsel's performance. Also, appellate counsel's failure to raise issues on appeal was not prejudicial, since the issues lacked merit. Finally, the record indicated that the district court went out of its way to construe liberally the inmate's pro se pleadings.