ROE v. FLORES-ORTEGA

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
98-1441
Petitioner 
Roe
Respondent 
Flores-Ortega
Advocates
(Sacramento, California argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court, supporting the petitioner)
(Sacramento, California, argued the cause for the respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

Lucio Flores-Ortega, who does not speak English fluently, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. At his sentencing, the trial judge advised him that he had 60 days to file an appeal. His counsel, a public defender, did not file a notice of appeal in the period set by the court even though her file contained the words "bring appeal papers." Flores-Ortega's subsequent attempt to file such notice was rejected as untimely. Flores-Ortega's efforts to secure state habeas corpus relief were unsuccessful. Represented by a federal defender, Flores-Ortega then filed a federal habeas corpus petition, alleging constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel based his counsel's failure to file the notice after promising to do so. The District Court denied relief. In reversing, the Court of Appeals found that Flores-Ortega was entitled to relief because, under its precedent, a habeas petitioner need only show that his counsel's failure to file a notice of appeal was without the petitioner's consent.

Question 

Does trial counsel have a duty to file a notice of appeal following a guilty plea if the defendant has not requested so, but has been informed of his appeal rights?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Roe, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Right to Counsel

No. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Court held that counsel is not always required to file a notice of appeal after their clients plead guilty unless the clients specifically ask them to so. "We cannot say, as a constitutional matter, that in every case counsel's failure to consult with the defendant about an appeal is necessarily unreasonable and therefore deficient," Justice O'Connor wrote for the majority. "We therefore reject a bright-line rule that counsel must always consult with the defendant regarding an appeal," concluded Justice O'Connor. In dissent, Justice David Souter, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens, wrote that attorneys should be required to consult with their clients about possible appeals in virtually all cases, even those in which the defendants plead guilty.

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ROE v. FLORES-ORTEGA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_1441>.
ROE v. FLORES-ORTEGA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_1441 (last visited December 12, 2014).
"ROE v. FLORES-ORTEGA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_98_1441.