Posted On: March 21, 2013 by Marc Neff

Supreme Court of the United States says: The Holding of Padilla v. Kentucky Will Not Apply Retroactively

In United States v. Chaidez, No. 11–820, (February 20, 2013). The Supreme Court of the United States held that it’s earlier decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, holding that the Sixth Amendment requires defense attorneys to inform criminal defendants of the deportation risks of guilty pleas, does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review.

Roselva Chaidez came to the United States from Mexico in 1971; she became a lawful permanent resident in 1977. In 2003, she was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on three counts of mail fraud in connection with an insurance scheme. On the advice of her attorney, Chaidez pleaded guilty and received a sentence of four years of probation. The U.S. government initiated removal proceedings in 2009 under a federal law that allows deportation of any alien who commits an aggravated felony. Chaidez’s attorney never told her that pleading guilty could lead to her deportation.

Chaidez filed for a writ of coram nobis, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel. While this motion was pending before the district court, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, holding that it is ineffective assistance of counsel when an attorney fails to advise a client that he or she may face deportation as a result of pleading guilty. The district court concluded that Padilla did not announce a new rule, so its holding applied to Chaidez's case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that Padilla does announce a new rule and is not retroactively applicable in this case.

The Supreme Court held that the Padilla ruling created an entirely new rule relating to whether advice about deportation fell under the scope of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Because the Court considered this rule separately from previous cases, it was considered a new rule and therefore could not retroactively apply to already decided cases.

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