Abdur’Rahman v. Bell

PETITIONER:Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman
RESPONDENT:Ricky Bell, Warden
LOCATION:The University of Michigan Law School Graduate Admissions

DOCKET NO.: 01-9094
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 537 US 88 (2002)
ARGUED: Nov 06, 2002
DECIDED: Dec 10, 2002

James S. Liebman – for the petitioner
Paul G. Summers – for the respondent
Paul J. Zidlicky – for the State of Alabama, et al., as amici curiae, by special leave of the Court

Facts of the case

In 1987, Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman was convicted of first-degree murder and related charges. In state post-conviction proceedings, Abdur’Rahman presented claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. Presenting all of his claims to the Tennessee Supreme Court, Abdur’Rahman was denied leave to appeal, and then he only presented some of his claims, on which he ultimately lost, to the federal District Court. While Abdur’Rahman’s certiorari petition was pending, the Tennessee Supreme Court adopted Rule 39, which expressly states that Tennessee litigants do not need to seek discretionary review from the court in order to exhaust their claims. Abdur’Rahman then filed a federal motion for relief of judgment, pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, re-presenting claims that the district court had previously determined to be unexhausted and procedurally barred. The District Court construed the Rule 60(b) motion as a second, or successive, habeas corpus petition and denied relief. Subsequently, the Court of Appeals denied all of Abdur’Rahman’s motions.


Does a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) motion, filed in a habeas corpus proceeding to inform the federal courts of a state court’s interpretation of state procedural laws, constitute a “successive” habeas corpus petition?

Media for Abdur’Rahman v. Bell

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 06, 2002 in Abdur’Rahman v. Bell

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – December 10, 2002 in Abdur’Rahman v. Bell

John Paul Stevens:

I have the disposition to announce in No. 01-9094, Abdur’Rahman against Bell.

The case is dismissed as improvidently granted, but I have also filed a dissenting opinion from the Court’s dismissal.