High court to look at pre-Padilla deportations

April 30, 2012 at 11:54 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether an unknown number of deportable aliens had been unconstitutionally deprived of good advice from a lawyer.

The high court ruled in 2010's Padilla vs. Kentucky that criminal defendants received "ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment when their attorneys fail to advise them that pleading guilty to an offense will subject them to deportation."

In the new case brought by a Mexican immigrant, the justices agreed to decide whether Padilla "applies to [the much larger group of] persons whose convictions became final before its announcement."

In asking for Supreme Court review to clear up disagreements in the lower courts, the U.S. government said in a brief, "Many non-citizens are now attempting to overturn their long-final convictions based on ... Padilla. These collateral proceedings threaten society's interest in the finality of criminal convictions."

New appeals based on applying Padilla retroactively "also will have a significant impact on the federal government's efforts to enforce this nation's immigration laws against those who have become removable as a result of pre-Padilla criminal convictions," the government brief said.

Roselva Chaidez was born in Mexico but has lived in the United States since the 1970s, becoming a lawful permanent resident since 1977. She lives in Chicago with her three U.S.-citizen children and two U.S.-citizen grandchildren.

Several years ago, Chaidez said, she "became involved in an insurance scheme" after being persuaded to falsely claim to have been a passenger in a car involved in a collision. She received $1,200 in the scheme.

Her lawyers said Chaidez was not told by her attorneys if she pleaded guilty she would be deported, as required by law. She pleaded guilty, was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $22,000 restitution.

When she later applied for U.S. citizenship, drawing the attention of officials, the government began deportation proceedings. After the lower courts ruled against her, she asked the Supreme Court for review.

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