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Garza v. Idaho

Supreme Court of the United States

October 30, 2018, Argued; February 27, 2019, Decided

No. 17-1026.


Justice Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the Court.

In Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U. S. 470, 120 S. Ct. 1029, 145 L. Ed. 2d 985 (2000), this Court held that when an attorney’s deficient performance costs a defendant an appeal that the defendant would have otherwise pursued, prejudice to the defendant should be presumed “with no further showing from the defendant of the merits of his underlying claims.” Id., at 484, 120 S. Ct. 1029, 145 L. Ed. 2d 985. This case asks whether [***6]  that rule applies even when the defendant has, in the course of pleading guilty, signed what is often called an “appeal waiver”—that is, an agreement forgoing certain, but not all, possible appellate claims. We hold that the presumption of prejudice recognized in Flores-Ortegaapplies regardless of whether the defendant has signed an appeal waiver.

In early 2015, petitioner Gilberto Garza, Jr., signed two plea agreements, each arising from criminal charges brought by the State of Idaho. Each agreement included a clause stating that Garza “waive[d] his right to appeal.” App. to Pet. for Cert. 44a, 49a. The Idaho trial court accepted the agreements and sentenced Garza to terms of prison in accordance with the agreements.

 [*743]  Shortly after sentencing, Garza told his trial counsel that he wished to appeal. 1 In the days that followed, he would later attest, Garza “continuously reminded” his attorney of this directive “via phone calls and letters,” Record 210, and Garza’s trial counsel acknowledged in his own affidavit that Garza had “told me he wanted to appeal the sentence(s) of the court,” id., at 151. 2 Garza’s trial counsel, however, did not file a notice of appeal. Instead, counsel “informed Mr. Garza [***7]  that an appeal was problematic because he waived his right to appeal.” Ibid. The period of time for Garza’s appeal to be preserved came and went with no notice having been filed on Garza’s behalf.Roughly four months after sentencing, Garza sought postconviction relief in Idaho state court. As relevant here, Garza alleged that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file notices of appeal despite Garza’s requests. The Idaho trial court denied relief, and both the Idaho Court of Appeals and the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed that decision. See 162 Idaho 791, 793, 405 P. 3d 576, 578 (2017). The Idaho  [**85]  Supreme Court ruled that Garza, given the appeal waivers, needed to show both deficient performance and resulting prejudice; it concluded that he could not. See id., at 798, 405 P. 3d, at 583.

In ruling that Garza needed to show prejudice, the Idaho Supreme Court acknowledged that it was aligning itself with the minority position among courts. For example, 8 of the 10 Federal Courts of Appeals to have considered the question have applied Flores-Ortega’s presumption of prejudice even when a defendant has signed an appeal waiver. 3 162 Idaho, at 795, 405 P. 3d, at 580.

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139 S. Ct. 738 *; 203 L. Ed. 2d 77 **; 2019 U.S. LEXIS 1596 ***; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 654; 2019 WL 938523


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


Garza v. State, 162 Idaho 791, 405 P.3d 576, 2017 Ida. LEXIS 297 (Idaho, Nov. 6, 2017)

Disposition: 162 Idaho 791, 405 P. 3d 576, reversed and remanded.


sentence, waived, plea agreement, right to appeal, cases, courts, waivers, notice of appeal, guilty plea, ineffective, deficient performance, appeals, assistance of counsel, appellate claim, ineffective-assistance, proceedings, postconviction, circumstances, collateral, forfeited, presumption of prejudice, appellate rights, trial court, the Sixth Amendment, presumed, right to counsel, trial counsel, challenges, bargained, merits

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Assistance of Counsel, Criminal Law & Procedure, Counsel, Effective Assistance of Counsel, Tests for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Reviewability, Waiver, Exceptions & Validity of Waivers, Appeals, Substitution & Withdrawal