March 31, 2010

US Supreme Court - 3-31-2010

Padilla v. Kentucky,            Ineffective Assistance of Counsel / Immigration Consequences

Assumptions the Court made: Counsel for Mr. Padilla misadvised him about the deportation consequences of his plea. Mr. Padilla claimed, his lawyer told, "him he did not need to worry about deportation because he had been in the country so long." (Kentucky did not conduct a hearing, but assumed the same).

Held: The US Supreme Court held that misinforming a client of deportation consequences satisfies the first prong of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), that the lawyer's performance was deficient. The Court pointed out that no decision of the U.S. Supreme Court ever delineated a difference between direct and collateral consequences of a plea or guilty verdict (according to Scalia, virtually all the lower courts in the U.S. make a distinction between direct and collateral consequences when applying Strickland). The Court remanded the case to Kentucky to decide whether counsel's deficient performance prejudiced Mr. Padilla (the second prong of Strickland). 

Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion; Justice Alito wrote the concurrence with Roberts joining; and Justice Scalia with Thomas dissented. However, all three opinions agreed that immigration law is murky, and  a good lawyer at least provides the advice, "this plea could result in deportation."

Justice Stevens and the Majority held that because the removal statute (attached) clearly defined the crime in which Mr. Padilla pled as one in which deportation is assured, that it was "an easy" case to determine the lawyer deficiently advised Mr. Padilla.

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