U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to consider case of immigrant who got bad advice from lawyer

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider the case of a legal immigrant who was wrongly told by his lawyer that his guilty plea to a drug offense would not result in his deportation.

The issue in the case is whether the immigrant, Jae Lee, can vacate his conviction based on the bad advice when evidence of his guilt was overwhelming, report SCOTUSblog and the New York Times.

The immigrant, Jae Lee, came to the United States with his family at the age of 13. He has lived here legally since his arrival in 1982. Based on his lawyer’s advice, Lee pleaded guilty to possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2010 case Padilla v. Kentucky that lawyers have a Sixth Amendment obligation to warn their clients when their guilty pleas can result in deportation. The court found ineffective assistance in the case and remanded for a decision on whether the defendant, Jose Padilla, was prejudiced as a result.

Since the decision, federal appeals courts have split on whether a defendant can demonstrate prejudice from bad legal advice when there is strong evidence of guilt, according to Lee’s cert petition (PDF). The SCOTUSblog case page for Lee v. United States is here.

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