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Garza v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

February 2, 2017

GILBERTO GARZA JR., Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

         2017 Opinion No. 7

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Jason D. Scott, District Judge.

         Judgments summarily dismissing petitions for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Maya P. Waldron, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kale D. Gans, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GUTIERREZ, Judge.

         Gilberto Garza Jr. appeals from the district court's summary dismissal of Garza's petitions for post-conviction relief. Specifically, Garza argues the district court erred because Garza's counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file notices of appeal. For the reasons explained below, we affirm the district court.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         These consolidated appeals involve two underlying convictions and two post-conviction relief petitions. In Case No. CR-2014-09960, Garza entered an Alford[1] plea to aggravated assault, pursuant to Idaho Code §§ 18-901(a) and 18-905(a). In Case No. CR-2014-18183, Garza pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, pursuant to Idaho Code § 37-2732(a)(1)(A). Garza waived his right to appeal in both cases under binding Idaho Criminal Rule 11(f)(1)(C) plea agreements. At a joint sentencing hearing, the district court accepted the plea agreements.

         Despite having waived his right to appeal, Garza instructed his attorney to file notices of appeal. His attorney declined, and no appeals were filed. Garza filed two petitions for post-conviction relief, which included allegations that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to file notices of appeal within the forty-two-day limit. Garza's trial counsel noted in an affidavit that he "did not file the appeal(s) and informed Mr. Garza that an appeal was problematic because he waived his right to appeal in his Rule 11 agreements."

         Garza filed motions for summary judgment and argued his right to appeal should be reinstated. The State cross-filed motions for summary dismissal. In addressing the motions, the district court focused on whether Garza's counsel was ineffective in failing to file appeals despite Garza's waiver of his appellate rights. The district court recognized that the issue is currently undecided in Idaho and that eight federal circuit courts adhere to the majority rule--prejudice is presumed when an attorney disregards the client's instruction to file an appeal, even if the client waived the right to appeal. The district court also considered the minority rule followed by two federal circuit courts--if a defendant waives his or her appellate rights, prejudice is not presumed when the attorney fails to file notices of appeal. The district court ultimately followed the minority rule and did not presume that counsel's failure to file notices of appeal was prejudicial. Instead, the district court required Garza to show prejudice and, specifically, to show nonfrivolous grounds for appeal (either that the appeal waiver is invalid or unenforceable or that the issues Garza wants to pursue on appeal are outside the scope of the waiver). Because Garza did not make any such showing, the district court summarily dismissed Garza's petitions. Garza timely appeals.

         II.

...


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