The United States Supreme Court has heard oral arguments on animmigration case that could have sweeping ramifications for thousands of criminal defendants. In March of 2010 in Padilla v. Kentucky, theSupreme Court ruled that immigrants must be informed of theimmigration consequences of a plea of guilty to a criminal charge. The question before the Supreme Court in this case is whether the rule inPadilla should be applied retroactively. If the court does apply the Padilla rule retroactively, this would open the door to countless criminal defendants who were sentenced for a criminal conviction and had never been informed about the immigration consequences of a plea of guilty. These defendants could come back to court and seek to have their criminal convictions set aside of the court applies the Padilla rule retroactively. Since the Padilla decision in 2010 courts have been split on whether to apply the Padilla rule retroactively. The current case involves Mexican citizen Roselva Chaidez who applied for citizenship in 2009 and disclosed that she had been convicted for an insurance fraud scheme many years earlier. Chaidez had a green card. Once the conviction was disclosed the government sought to remove her from the country because of the criminal conviction. Chaidez argued that her lawyer never informed her of the immigration consequences of her guilty plea, thus constituting ineffective assistance of counsel. In August of 2001 the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Chaidez by finding that since Padilla introduced a new constitutional requirement, based on Supreme Court precedent, the Padilla rule could not be applied retroactively. In arguments before the United States Supreme Court, Chaidez's attorneys argue that Padilla merely confirmed a longstanding principle that criminal defendants have the right to a reasonably competent attorney. The government argued that the 2010 Padilla decision announced a new rule. Twenty-eight states joined the Federal Government fearing that if Chaidez prevails there will be a flood of old cases opened up seeking to throw out criminal convictions.
The case is Chaidez v. United States, No. - 11-820.
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