Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a very interesting case. In 2001 Jose Padilla plead guilty to drug charges in Kentucky. Padilla had lived in the United States for 40 years as a permanent resident. He asked his attorney if a plea of guilty to the drug charges would have any immigration consequences and was told that it wouldn't. Of course, Padilla's attorney was wrong and Padilla is now facing deportation. Padilla is claiming that the faulty advice by his attorney amounted to a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. Padilla is arguing that defendants need to be informed of the immigration consequences of a guilty plea since Congress has mandated that a conviction of certain crimes can lead to deportation. During oral arguments Justice Scalia expressed concern of opening a Pandora's box. Scalia wanted to know what the extent of the possible consequences could be. For instance, would the attorney have to advise the client that a plea of guilty could affect their client's right to own a gun, or to obtain financial aid, or affect their ability to have visitation of their children in a divorce proceeding. Justice Kennedy suggested that judges warn defendants that there may be collateral consequences to their guilty plea when they are being admonished at the time of the plea.
We will keep an eye out for the court's decision and pass it along to you.
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