Back to Summaries

Garza v. Idaho

Case Name
Garza v. Idaho
139 S. Ct. 738
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
Sonia Sotomayor
Judge(s) - Majority
Sonia Sotomayor, John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh
Judge(s) - Dissent
Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
Idaho Supreme Court
Decision Year


Defendant signed two plea agreements, one of which was an Alford plea and both of which included waivers of his right to appeal. After sentencing, Defendant informed his counsel he wished to appeal his conviction. His counsel did not do so, instead telling him of his waiver. The period where Defendant’s appeal could be preserved ended with no notice of appeal filed. Defendant brought an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The state courts dismissed his claim, finding that Defendant could not satisfy the prejudice prong of Strickland v. Washington. The Supreme Court held that the presumption of prejudice found in Roe v. Flores-Ortega was applicable even when a Defendant has signed an appellate waiver. The Court held that, where, as here, counsel failed to file an appeal that the Defendant otherwise would have filed, prejudice is presumed even where a Defendant has signed a waiver of their right to appeal. The Court first reasoned that Defendants who have signed a waiver do not waive every appeal available, such that signing the waiver itself was improper. Second, the Court reasoned that deciding to file a notice of appeal is a simple process that remains with the Defendant, not the Defendant’s counsel. Therefore, prejudice is presumed even when a defendant has signed an appellate waiver, when counsel fails to file a notice of appeal that the defendant would have otherwise filed.

Key Quote

“[P]rejudice is presumed ‘when counsel’s constitutionally deficient performance deprives a defendant of an appeal that he otherwise would have taken.’ Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470, 484 (2000). We hold today that this final presumption applies even when the defendant has signed an appeal waiver.” p.744