The United States incarcerates hundreds of thousands of noncitizen criminal defendants each year. In 2010, there were about 55,000 "criminal aliens" in federal prisons, accounting for approximately 25 percent of all federal prisoners. In 2009, there were about 296,000 noncitizens in state and local jails. Like Jose, these defendants usually do not know that their convictions may make them automatically deportable under the INA. Under the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Padilla v. Kentucky, criminal defense attorneys have an affirmative duty to give specific, accurate advice to noncitizen clients regarding the deportation risk of potential pleas. This rule helps assure that, going forward, noncitizens will be in a position to make informed plea decisions. Knowing the potential consequences of a conviction, they may choose to go to trial, risking a longer sentence but possibly avoiding conviction and subsequent deportation. Unfortunately, for some noncitizen defendants, Padilla was decided too late; at the time Padilla was announced, they had already pleaded guilty, relying upon the advice of defense counsel who failed to advise them of the potential immigration consequences of their conviction. Under what circumstances should relief be available to such noncitizen defendants? This Note argues that courts should apply the rule of Padilla v. Kentucky retroactively on state postconviction review to at least the limited group of defendants whose cases were on direct review when Padilla was decided.
To Plea or Not to Plea: Retroactive Availability of Padilla v. Kentucky to Noncitizen Defendants on State Postconviction Review,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol18/iss1/5