In an opinion stating that the importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens has never been more important, the U.S. Supreme Court today said that lawyers now have a constitutional obligation to advise their clients of the immigration-related consequences of a criminal conviction. The plaintiff in Padilla v. Kentucky is Jose Padilla (not the convicted terrorist), who was born in Honduras, lived in the United States legally for over 40 years, and served as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Charged with marijuana possession, he followed his attorney's advice to plead guilty and was deported.
Justice Stevens wrote for the majority:
It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant -- whether a citizen or not -- is left to the 'mercies of incompetent counsel.'
The State Bar, through its Criminal Issues Initiative, has taken the lead in informing attorneys and the public about the collateral consequences of conviction. Resources are available on the State Bar's website:
Robertson v. U.S. ex rel. Watson, to be argued today, challenges the way restraining orders are enforced in the District of Columbia, which allows victims to bring criminal contempt charges when a PPO is violated. The case asks whether these private prosecutions must be brought in the victim's name, or the state's. In times where prosecutors' offices are overwhelmed with cases, Law.com explains,family law experts say the private right to prosecute gives victims another tool to make PPOs effective. Family law lawyers also worry that a finding against the private prosecution law would extend beyond domestic abuse to the enforcement of child visitation and custody cases.
Indiana backed away from supporting our fight to close the locks and canals leading Asian carp toward the Great Lakes and now the state has a smelly environmental problem all its own. Coincidence? The WSJ tells the story of "giant poop bubbles" on a farm in Winchester, Indiana. The photo is amazing, but don't click through to it over lunch. (To be fair, Indiana now is an ally in the anti-carp offensive. Also to be fair, the farm is much closer to Ohio than to us. But who can resist a good poop-bubble story?)
The defendant claimed that his Kent County jury was not drawn from a fair cross-section of the community, but the Michigan Supreme Court found that Smith had not established a prima facie Sixth Amendment violation. Today, the United States Supreme Court in a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsberg reversing the 6th Circuit, said the Michigan Supreme Court's decision was not unreasonable. Berghuis v Smith, (08-1402). The ABA Journal's report is here.
The case is notorious: a group pickets military funerals saying that the deaths represent God's judgment against gays in the military. The Baltimore Sun reports that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the father of a deceased Marine who sued the protestors to pay $16,510.80 for costs relating to the appeal, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted cert in the case, Snyder v Phelps, et al, 09-751 (ScotusBLog). The father prevailed before a jury, but that victory was overturned by the 4th Circuit which found that the signs displayed at the funeral and comments on an anti-gay website are protected speech.
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court heard Renico v Lett out of Michigan. The issue is whether double jeopardy protections apply when the trial judge declares a mistrial based on mixed signals from the jury that the judge decides indicate they are unable to reach a unanimous verdict. As the Court pressed counsel over how to decide if a judge's determination of deadlock is reasonable, Justice Breyer mused:
I guess if the judge had said, "Hey, we have only been deliberating half an hour and the game starts in five minutes, I've got to get there -- dismissed," that would be unreasonable.
From the Denver Post, a Colorado lawyer has been censured for representing to a potential client that his firm's minority/female equity ownership met a 50% threshold when in fact it was only 30%. Here's the stipulation, from the Denver Business Journal.
Her family lost its home in the Depression. She was the only woman in her Yale law school class. Upon graduation she worked in civil rights and public housing. Later, she served as New York's solicitor general. Then she "retired" to teaching and travel. Now, Shirley Adelson Siegel serves clients facing foreclosure, pro bono. NYT tells the inspiring story.