20 February 2013

Law in Plain English: Chaidez v. United States

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

Chaidez v. United States

Chaidez pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 2004. Immigration officials started proceedings to deport her in 2009. She challenged the proceedings, claiming that her lawyer did not advise her that pleading guilty would subject her to deportation. While her immigration case was pending, the Supreme Court held in Padilla v. Kentucky that criminal defendants that receive ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment when their attorneys fail to advise them that pleading guilty to an offense will subject them to deportation. The issue here was whether the Court's decision in Padilla was retroactive to Chaidez's case (because the mail fraud judgment against her was final before Padilla was decided). The Supreme Court ruled that Padilla does not apply retroactively to cases that have already been decided. As a result, Chaidez could not challenge the ineffectiveness of her counsel. The practical impact of this decision is that criminal defendants will not be able to benefit from new rules of criminal procedure decided after their case is final.
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