Noah Lundy (defendant) was convicted of rape and crime against nature. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, and the Tennessee Supreme Court declined review. The Knox County Criminal Court denied Lundy’s petition for post-conviction relief. Lundy petitioned the federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Lundy asserted two claims that had been exhausted in the state courts and two that had not. The district court granted the writ but determined it could not assess the unexhausted claims. Nevertheless, the court said those claims “may be referred to collaterally” and considered brand new claims of prosecutorial error. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether mixed petitions must be dismissed.