U.S. Supreme Court

Will 2010 Decision Help Immigrant Who Pleaded Guilty in 2003? High Court Mulls Retroactivity

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday considered the reach of a decision holding that criminal defense lawyers have a Sixth Amendment obligation to warn their clients when a guilty plea could result in deportation.

At issue is whether the 2010 decision Padilla v. Kentucky is retroactive, report the New York Times and Reuters. Roselva Chaidez, a Chicago woman and legal permanent U.S. resident, is citing the decision in a challenge to the government’s attempt to deport her because of a 2003 guilty plea to mail fraud in an auto insurance scheme.

The Padilla decision is retroactive if it merely applied existing precedent. The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the decision instead announced a new constitutional rule of law and did not have retroactive effect.

Chaidez’s lawyer, Stanford law professor Jeffrey Fisher, argued that Padilla merely affirmed the longstanding principle that defendants should have reasonably effective counsel, according to the Reuters account. Justice Antonin Scalia, however, pointed out that all decisions draw upon earlier law.

“We always cite some pre-existing principle,” he said. The case is Chaidez v. United States.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Supreme Court to Decide Reach of Decision on Lawyers’ Obligation to Disclose Deportation Risk”

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