Criminal Process and Procedure

2017 U.S. Supreme Court: IDP Appears as Amicus Curiae in Lee v. United States

In January 2017, IDP appeared with amici curiae immigrants’ rights organizations who comprise the Defending Immigrants Partnership, in a brief to the Supreme Court addressing whether a defendant who has pleaded guilty based on deficient advice from defense counsel may establish prejudice if there is strong evidence of guilt. Our brief demonstrates how competent counsel, armed with the knowledge of immigration consequences, can negotiate non-mandatory deportation pleas to otherwise mandatory deportation charges. The brief provides examples of favorable plea negotiations that satisfied both non-citizen defendants and prosecutors. The brief also provided details on resources available to defense counsel at the time of this case that would have facilitated such pleas.

Padilla v. Kentucky and the Right to Advice Regarding Immigration Consequences of Conviction

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010)  represents a vindication of IDP’s work since our inception. In Padilla, the Court held that in order to provide constitutionally effective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment, criminal defense attorneys must advise their noncitizen clients regarding the immigration consequences of conviction. Since 2010, IDP has continued to work to ensure that Padilla is interpreted fairly such that non-citizen defendants receive the full benefit of their Sixth Amendment rights. IDP encourages New York and other post-conviction relief practitioners and litigants to contact IDP Staff Attorney Ryan Muennich for litigation support, technical assistance, and for the support of amicus curiae briefs on impact Padilla issues in state and federal appellate courts.

Resources for Padilla-Related Litigation and Advising Noncitizen Defendants

The Right to Appeal

In an important victory for the rights of immigrants convicted of crimes, on October 25, 2011, New York’s highest court held in a pair of cases that the intermediate appeals courts abuse their discretion when they dismiss the criminal appeals of defendants who have been involuntarily deported. In both People v. Ventura and People v. Gardner, Nos. 11-160, 11-161 (N.Y. Oct. 25, 2011), the defendants were deported while the appeals of their trial convictions were pending.  Although state law guarantees every defendant the right to appeal a criminal conviction to the intermediate court, those courts had been dismissing the appeals of deported defendants on the theory that the defendants were outside the jurisdiction of the court and therefore not available to obey the courts’ mandates. Noting the “uniquely critical role in the fair administration of justice” that a first appeal plays in the criminal justice system, the high court held that immigrant defendants “have a[n even] greater need to avail themselves of the appellate process” than citizen defendants “in light of the tremendous ramifications of deportation,” and ruled that the intermediate courts must hear the appeals (whether or not the challenged conviction was the sole or primary cause of the defendant’s deportation).