The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Viera on Wednesday, March 28, 2012.
The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioner, a federal prisoner, filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court dismissed the first three claims because Mr. Viera could not show prejudice. The district court denied relief on all claims but the fourth—that his attorney failed to file an appeal as instructed—because Petitioner waived this collateral challenge. “The court was sufficiently uncertain, however, about the waiver determination that it granted COA on the appeal issue.”
The Court determined that the plea agreement waived Petitioner’s ineffective assistance claim “because counsel’s alleged failure to file an appeal does not undermine the validity of the plea or the waiver.” Petitioner voluntarily “entered into a valid plea agreement that waived his right to bring a collateral attack except in limited circumstances not found here, and because enforcement of the waiver does not produce a miscarriage of justice,” the Court affirmed the district court’s denial of this claim.