October 30, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court hears Garza v. Idaho arguments on defendant’s right to appellate review

In an appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct 30, 2018, Amir Ali, Supreme Court and Appellate Counsel at the MacArthur Justice Center, argued Gilberto Garza Jr., was deprived of his constitutional right to a lawyer because his lawyers did not follow his instructions to appeal the legality of his plea and sentence.

In 2015, Mr. Garza entered an Alford plea to aggravated assault and a guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance. Both plea agreements included a provision specifying that he waived his right to appeal. After Mr. Garza’s attorney refused his instruction to appeal, the Supreme Court of Idaho refused to presume prejudice from the deprivation of Mr. Garza’s appeal (and his right to counsel on appeal), and instead required Mr. Garza to identify the points that his counsel would have raised on direct appeal.

Ali told the Court that signing an appeal waiver did not mean the defendant had nothing to appeal, including the voluntariness of the appeal waiver. Because Mr. Garza asked his lawyer to appeal and the lawyer did not follow his client’s instructions, the lawyer was automatically ineffective, and Mr. Garza was deprived of his right to appellate review, Ali argued.