Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Padilla V. Kentucky 559 U. S. (2010). The Supreme Court was asked to decide whether, as a matter of federal law, Padilla’s counsel had an obligation to advise him that the offense to which he was pleading guilty would result in his removal from this country. The United States Supreme Court held that an attorney must advise a client whether a plea to a criminal charge carries a risk of deportation. Whether he is entitled to relief depends on whether he has been prejudiced-- a matter not addressed by the Supreme Court. The Court remanded the matter so that the lower court can determine if there is “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court reconvenes next week, their docket will include two important immigration cases. Both cases present the Supreme Court with opportunities to reaffirm that immigrants must be afforded fair process and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The first case, Padilla v. Kentucky
, set for October 13, will examine whether a criminal defense attorney has the obligation to provide foreign-born defendants with advice about what impact their criminal case will have on their immigration case. It will also decide whether defendants have a remedy when defense attorneys provide incorrect advice. The second case, Kucana v. Holder
, set for November 10, deals with immigrants' access to federal court review of government immigration decisions such as motions to reopen by the Board of Immigration Appeals.