Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Otero: Counsel not ineffective for failing to appeal

In U.S. v. Otero, No. 06-15791 (Sept. 17, 2007), the Court held that Otero’s lawyer had no constitutional duty under the criteria of Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000) to consult Otero about an appeal, and therefore denied Otero’s § 2255 motion based on counsel’s failure to file an appeal.
Otero pled guilty to drug trafficking charges. He waived his right of appeal in his plea agreement. Consequently, he had no non-frivolous issues for appeal. Hence, no rational defendant in Otero’s position would have sought to appeal, and counsel therefore did not render ineffective assistance.
The Court also rejected Otero’s claim that he specifically instructed his lawyer to file an appeal. The Court adopted the district court’s credibility determinations that Otero never indicated a desire to appeal.