Opinions Relating to Orders - 2022

Davis v. United States

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

JUSTICE JACKSON, with whom JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR joins, dissenting from the denial of certiorari. Our criminal justice system today is “for the most part a system of pleas, not a system of trials.” Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U. S. 156, 170 (2012). Against this backdrop, this Court has recognized that the loss of an opportunity for a favorable plea offer due to an attorney’s deficient performance can violate the Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel. Id., at 169–170; see also Missouri v. Frye, 566 U. S. 134 (2012). Petitioner Quartavious Davis alleged, and the Eleventh Circuit did not dispute, that he satisfied the first prong of the Strickland ineffective-assistance-of-counsel standard because his attorney failed to initiate plea negotiations with the Government.

The question presented, then, is how can a defendant like Davis show “prejudice” as a result of this failure? See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668, 687 (1984) (ineffective assistance of counsel requires a showing of both deficient performance and prejudice). The Circuits appear to be at odds with respect to this important question. Under our case law, in order to demonstrate prejudice when defense counsel’s deficient performance causes the defendant to forgo an advantageous plea deal, the defendant must show there was “a reasonable probability” that the relevant parties—the prosecution, defendant, and the court—would have accepted the plea.