Second Circuit Remands Ineffective Assistance Claim for Lawyer’s Failure to Apprise Naturalized U.S. Citizen of Denaturalization Risk Before Guilty Plea
In Rodriguez v. United States, the Second Circuit remanded the case to the district court to hear evidence on a defendant’s application to vacate her guilty plea, on the grounds that she would not have entered into the plea if her counsel had properly advised her as to its immigration consequences. The Circuit, in a summary order written by Judges Walker, Lynch, and Chin, concluded that there was a reasonable probability that, had she been properly advised, she may have chosen not to plead guilty and thus may have avoided the immigration consequences that later ensued. Accordingly, it remanded the case to the district court to develop an evidentiary record and make a finding on those issues. The order requiring a hearing on a defendant’s right to extraordinary relief represents a reminder to judges and prosecutors that the immigration consequences of a guilty plea are no less central to the plea allocution than the contemplated term of imprisonment. The decision follows the Supreme Court’s decision last term in Lee v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1958, 1967 (2017). In Lee, the Court held that a defendant who would not have pleaded guilty but for counsel’s errors concerning the deportation consequences of his or her plea has demonstrated ineffective assistance.
Second Circuit Reminds Courts They Must Advise Defendants of the Immigration Consequences of Guilty Pleas
In United States v. Gonzales, 16-4318 (March 13, 2018), the Second Circuit (Sack, Parker, Carney) in a per curiam order vacated the conviction of a defendant who had pled guilty without being informed that he was likely to be deported at the end of his sentence. On June 23, 2015, Wilfredo Gonzales appeared before the Western District of New York (Geraci, C.J.) and pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute cocaine, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. During the plea colloquy, the District Court failed to inform Gonzales, who was a lawful permanent resident, that he could be removed from the United States as a result of his conviction.