Supreme Court Issues Decision on Chaidez v. U.S.

The Court issued its decision in Chaidez v. United States this past Wednesday. IDP worked extensively on amicus strategy and other support for the case. We are very disappointed in the decision and our hearts go out to all those who will be impacted by it.

The Court held that Padilla is a “new rule” pursuant to Teague, and thus under the Teague analysis does not apply retroactively to convictions that were final before Padilla was decided. This is a deeply unjust decision. Ms. Chaidez pleaded guilty two years after Mr. Padilla, and her coram nobis petition was pending when Padilla was decided. Therefore, the norms supporting the Sixth Amendment duty to advise regarding immigration consequences were firmly in place at the time of her plea, and it is only the fortuity of timing that prevented her case from reaching the Supreme Court first.

The silver lining in this decision is that Chaidez did not dispute Padilla’s assertion that for at least the past 15 years professional norms have obligated defense counsel to advise regarding immigration consequences; in fact, the opinion cited to a 1968 ABA standard that instructed defense attorneys to give advice regarding deportation. Thus, in a post-Chaidez world, Padilla claims stand on a strong footing substantively. Given what is at stake for many of these defendants – separation from family, friends, job, the place they consider home, where they have lived for years or decades – IDP expects that a substantial number of defendants will continue to fight hard to get their day in court on the merits of their ineffective assistance of counsel claim. IDP intends to remain in the forefront with model legal materials, amicus briefing, and technical support for defendants and their attorneys.

Chaidez dealt a heavy blow to Padilla retroactivity but it did not render Padilla completely unavailable for challenges to convictions that were final when Padilla was decided. For state and federal post-conviction relief (PCR) petitioners in the same boat as Ms. Chaidez, there are ways to fight the dismissal of those claims. For instance, Chaidez was a federal PCR case, and New York courts can apply broader state retroactivity principles to award relief on Padilla 440 motions. Also, there is an independent New York state constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, which is unaffected by Chaidez.

IDP and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild published a Chaidez practice advisory on March 1. Soon, IDP will distribute NY-specific briefing of the Padilla 440 arguments that remain available post-Chaidez.  For updates and information on other Padilla 440 issues, please check IDP’s Padilla PCR webpage.