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Maggie Arias at the Florida Supreme Court

At approximately 9:40 a.m. on May 8th, 2012, Pozo Goldstein, LLP’s Maggie Arias and esteemed co-counsel, Benjamin Waxman, appeared before the seven justices at the Florida Supreme Court. Docket #SC11-1281, Leduan Diaz v. State of Florida considered the retroactive application of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla vs. Kentucky. Mr. Diaz alleged his trial counsel had failed to advise him that a plea to the charges of Burglary, Criminal Mischief, and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, would trigger inadmissibility to the United States and therefore expose him to automatic and certain deportation from this country.

Also at issue was whether the current plea colloquy scheme in Florida under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.172(c)(8), which requires a trial court to advise a defendant that a plea may cause him to be deported, is sufficient to properly advise a defendant when the deportation is virtually certain. Lastly, the Court considered that whether the plea colloquy warning as to deportation could ever supplant the lawyer’s 6th Amendment obligation under Padilla, to provide accurate advice to a non-citizen defendant who will suffer the immigration consequences to his plea.

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court recently accepted jurisdiction over the case of Chaidez v. United States, and will directly answer the question of whether Padilla applies retroactively to convictions prior to the 2010 Padilla decision, the Florida Supreme Court may very well delay it’s final ruling.

Our firm is proud to have had our Associate, Maggie Arias, at the forefront of this precedent-establishing case. We firmly believe that all non-citizens exposed to immigration consequences as a direct result of criminal convictions deserve competent counsel’s advice and assistance in order to be able to weigh the options available before deciding a fate that may foreclose the opportunity to remain in the United States lawfully. Thank you, Maggie and Benji, for your dedication and tireless efforts for justice.

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