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U.S. Supreme Court: Padilla Not Retroactive

In a very important U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Chaidez v. United States, the Court found that the decision in Padilla v. Kentucky was NOT retroactive. This decision is a blow to non-citizens who were not properly represented by counsel when they entered plea agreements that resulted in deportation.

In the Padilla case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a lawyer representing a non-citizen must inform his or her client whether a contemplated plea agreement will result in deportation from the United States. The decision in Padilla was very specific explaining that a lawyer must not only warn the client that he may be subject to deportation, rather the lawyer must, with certainty, explain the exact immigration consequences of an offered plea. So the Court, essentially, ruled that failure to comprehensively address the immigration consequences of a plea constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel and clients are entitled to vacate their plea, judgment and sentence if they can show that this was the case.

Sadly, with their decision in Chaidez, the Court refused to extend the reach of Padilla to those clients who received ineffective assistance of counsel more than two years after their plea. For instance, someone with a conviction by plea in 2009 would not have standing to file a Motion to Vacate their plea even though the Supreme Court ruled that their lawyer made a mistake and the client did not receive his constitutional right to competent counsel.

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