Published on: Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Today, in Garza v. Idaho, Case No. 17-1026 (Feb. 27, 2019), the Supreme Court addressed whether the presumption of prejudice recognized in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), applies when a trial counsel fails to file an appeal as instructed when the defendant has agreed to an appeal waiver. The Idaho Supreme Court held that the defendant could not show the requisite deficient performance by counsel and resulting prejudice. The United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded.

The Supreme Court first recognized that no appeal waiver serves as an absolute bar to all appellate claims. The Court stated that a plea agreement is essentially a contract that does not bar claims outside its scope. Additionally, even a waived appellate claim can be waived or forfeited by the government or a waived appellate claim can be raised if the government breaches the plea agreement. More important, the Court recognized that some claims are treated as unwaiveable, such as whether the waiver itself was knowing and voluntary. Thus, in a 6-3 decision, the Court recognized that the presumption of prejudice recognized in Flores-Ortega applies despite an appeal waiver.

Merits briefing is available on the Supreme Court’s website, here. The Training Division provides resources on pleas and appeals to help you argue on behalf of your client.