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High Court Could Expand Deportation Ruling

Publication Date: 
May 03, 2012
Daily Journal
Robert Iafolla

Professor Jeffrey L. Fisher is quoted by the Daily Journal's Robert Iafolla on the Supreme Court's decision to hear a new case involving the deportation of noncitizens who plead guilty to crimes. Fisher will be arguing in Chaidez v. US (11-820) for the retroactive application of a 2010 Supreme Court decision that included the act of failing to explain that a guilty plea could result in immigration consequences as a form on ineffective counsel.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will consider whether to retroactively apply its ruling that defense attorneys must inform their noncitizen clients whether pleading guilty could trigger deportation.

The court decided in 2010 that failing to explain immigration consequences of a guilty plea amounts to ineffective assistance of counsel. That matter dealt with a lawful permanent resident named Jose Padilla who admitted to transporting marijuana but wasn't told by his lawyer that the admission would cause his removal. Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.CT. 1473.

"The same reason that it was unfair to hold Mr. Padilla accountable ought to make it unfair for our client," said Jeffrey L. Fisher, lead attorney for the woman trying to make Padilla retroactive.

Fisher said it is difficult to get a sense of how many people could be impacted by applying the decision to those convicted before the court handed it down in March 2010. But retroactive application could be crucial for any of them, he added.

"Deportation is a really big deal for people, like our client, who have often lived in the country for decades and have all their family here in the only home they've ever known," Fisher added.