Friday, December 16, 2016

Supreme Court News: Supplemental Briefing Ordered in Jennings v. Rodriguez, Cert Granted in Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Case


There are two pieces of immigration news from the Supreme Court.

First, the Court ordered supplemental briefing on the constitutional issues in Jennings v. Rodriguez, the immigration detention case in which the Court heard oral arguments on November 30.  As discusssed in this post on SCOTUSBlog, the Ninth Circuit had interpreted the immigrant detention statutory provisions in a manner to avoid the constitutional questions and imposed the requirement that a bond hearing be held if a noncitizen were detained for longer than six months.  At the oral argument, Chief Justice Roberts and others suggested that the Court might need to address the constitutional issues.   The briefing ordered by the Court centers on the constitutional issues in the case.

As Amy Howe describes, the Court decided to review Lee v. United States, in which an immigrant facing removal on criminal grounds from the United States claims that he received in effective assistance of counsel in the underlying criminal proceeding.  Jae Le lawfully me to the U.S. from South Korea in 1982 and eventually became a successful restauranteur. In 2009, he was charged with possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute. Lee’s attorney recommended that Lee plead guilty, so that he would receive a shorter sentence. Despite Lee’s attorney’s assurances to the contrary, a guilty plea would result in Lee’s permanent and mandatory deportation.

Lee later sought to vacate his conviction, arguing that he had been deprived of his constitutional right to have adequate assistance from his attorney. The government agreed that Lee could satisfy the first prong of the test to determine whether an attorney’s representation violated the Constitution: The attorney had indeed provided deficient advice when he told Lee that a guilty plea would not expose him to deportation. But the lower courts ruled that Lee could not show, as required by the second prong of the test, that he was prejudiced by that bad advice, because the evidence of his guilt was so overwhelming that he would have been convicted and deported anyway. The Court agreed to review this question.


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