559 U.S. 356 (2010), 08-651, Padilla v. Kentucky

Docket Nº:08-651
Citation:559 U.S. 356, 130 S.Ct. 1473, 176 L.Ed.2d 284, 78 U.S.L.W. 4235
Opinion Judge:STEVENS, Justice.
Party Name:JOSE PADILLA, PETITIONER v. KENTUCKY
Attorney:Stephen B. Kinnaird, for petitioner. Michael R. Dreeben for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court, supporting affirmance. Wm. Robert Long, Jr., for respondent. Richard E. Neal, U'Sellis & Kitchen, PLC, Louisville, KY, Timothy G. Arnold, Dept. of Public Advocacy, Frankfort, KY,...
Judge Panel:STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which ROBERTS, C. J., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS, J., joined. Alito, Justice, with whom ...
Case Date:March 31, 2010
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 356

559 U.S. 356 (2010)

130 S.Ct. 1473, 176 L.Ed.2d 284, 78 U.S.L.W. 4235

JOSE PADILLA, PETITIONER

v.

KENTUCKY

No. 08-651

United States Supreme Court

March 31, 2010

Argued October 13, 2009.

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF KENTUCKY.

[130 S.Ct. 1475] [176 L.Ed.2d 288] Syllabus [*]

Petitioner Padilla, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years, faces deportation after pleading guilty to drug-distribution charges in Kentucky. In postconviction proceedings, he claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence before he entered the plea, but also told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived [130 S.Ct. 1476] in this country so long. He alleges that he would have gone to trial had he not received this incorrect advice. The Kentucky Supreme Court denied Padilla postconviction relief on the ground that the Sixth Amendment's effective-assistance-of-counsel guarantee does not protect defendants from erroneous deportation advice because deportation is merely a "collateral" consequence of a conviction.

Held:

Because counsel must inform a client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation, Padilla has sufficiently alleged that his counsel was constitutionally deficient. Whether he is entitled to relief depends on whether he has been prejudiced, a matter not addressed here. Pp. 1478-1487, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 290-299.

(a) Changes to immigration law have dramatically raised the stakes of a noncitizen's criminal conviction. While once there was only a narrow class of deportable offenses and judges wielded broad discretionary authority to prevent deportation, immigration reforms have expanded the class of deportable offenses and limited judges' authority to alleviate deportation's harsh consequences. Because the drastic measure of deportation or removal is now virtually inevitable for a vast number of noncitizens convicted of crimes, the importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens accused of crimes has never been more important. Thus, as a matter of federal law, deportation is an integral part of the penalty that may be imposed on noncitizen defendants who plead guilty to specified crimes. Pp. 1478-1480, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 290-293..

(b) Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674, applies to Padilla's claim. Before deciding whether to plead guilty, a defendant is entitled to "the effective assistance of competent counsel." McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771, 90 S.Ct. 1441, 25 L.Ed.2d 763. The Supreme Court of Kentucky rejected Padilla's ineffectiveness claim on the ground that the advice he sought about deportation concerned only collateral matters. However, this Court has never distinguished between direct and collateral consequences in defining the scope of constitutionally "reasonable professional assistance"

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required under Strickland, 466 U.S., at 689, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674. The question whether that distinction is appropriate need not be considered in this case because of the unique nature of deportation. Although removal proceedings are civil, deportation is intimately related to the criminal process, which makes it uniquely difficult to classify as either a direct or a collateral consequence. Because that distinction is thus ill-suited to evaluating a Strickland claim concerning the specific risk of deportation, advice regarding deportation is not categorically removed from the ambit of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Pp. 1480-1482, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 293-294..

(c) To satisfy Strickland's two-prong inquiry, counsel's representation [176 L.Ed.2d 289] must fall "below an objective standard of reasonableness," id., at 688, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674, and there must be "a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different," id., at 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674. The first, constitutional deficiency, is necessarily linked to the legal community's practice and expectations. Id., at 688, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674. The weight of prevailing professional norms supports the view that counsel must advise her client regarding the deportation risk. And this Court has recognized the importance to the client of " '[p]reserving the . . . right to remain in the United States' " and "preserving the possibility of" discretionary relief from deportation. INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289, 322, 323, 121 S.Ct. 2271, 150 L.Ed.2d 347. Thus, this is not a hard case in which to find deficiency: The consequences of Padilla's plea could easily be determined [130 S.Ct. 1477] from reading the removal statute, his deportation was presumptively mandatory, and his counsel's advice was incorrect. There will, however, undoubtedly be numerous situations in which the deportation consequences of a plea are unclear. In those cases, a criminal defense attorney need do no more than advise a noncitizen client that pending criminal charges may carry adverse immigration consequences. But when the deportation consequence is truly clear, as it was here, the duty to give correct advice is equally clear. Accepting Padilla's allegations as true, he has sufficiently alleged constitutional deficiency to satisfy Strickland's first prong. Whether he can satisfy the second prong, prejudice, is left for the Kentucky courts to consider in the first instance. Pp. 1482-1484, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 294-296..

(d) The Solicitor General's proposed rule—that Strickland should be applied to Padilla's claim only to the extent that he has alleged affirmative misadvice—is unpersuasive. And though this Court must be careful about recognizing new grounds for attacking the validity of guilty pleas, the 25 years since Strickland was first applied to ineffective-assistance claims at the plea stage have shown that pleas are less frequently the subject of collateral challenges than convictions after a trial. Also, informed consideration of possible deportation can benefit both the State and noncitizen defendants, who may be able to reach agreements that better satisfy the interests of both parties. This decision will not

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open the floodgates to challenges of convictions obtained through plea bargains. Cf. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58, 106 S.Ct. 366, 88 L.Ed.2d 203. Pp. 1484-1486, 176 L.Ed.2d, at 296-299..

253 S.W.3d 482, reversed and remanded.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which ROBERTS, C. J., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS, J., joined.

Stephen B. Kinnaird, for petitioner.

Michael R. Dreeben for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court, supporting affirmance.

Wm. Robert Long, Jr., for respondent.

Richard E. Neal, U'Sellis & Kitchen, PLC, Louisville, KY, Timothy G. Arnold, Dept. of Public Advocacy, Frankfort, KY, of counsel, Stephanos Bibas, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, Stephen B. Kinnaird, Counsel of Record, Alexander M.R. Lyon, D. Scott Carlton, Mitchell A. Mosvick, Elizabeth A. Stevens, Leeann N. Rosnick, Adam S. Cherensky, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, Washington, D.C., for Petitioner.

Jack Conway, Attorney General of Kentucky, Wm. Robert Long, Jr., Counsel of Record, Matthew R. Krygiel, Assistant Attorneys General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Office of the Attorney General, Frankfort, Kentucky, for Respondent.

OPINION

Page 359

STEVENS, Justice.

Petitioner Jose Padilla, a native of Honduras, has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for more than 40 years. Padilla served [176 L.Ed.2d 290] this Nation with honor as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. He now faces deportation after pleading guilty to the transportation of a large amount of marijuana in his tractor-trailer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.1

[130 S.Ct. 1478]In this postconviction proceeding, Padilla claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence prior to his entering the plea, but also told him that he " 'did not have to worry about immigration status since he had been in the country so long.'" 253 S.W.3d 482, 483 (Ky. 2008). Padilla relied on his counsel's erroneous advice when he pleaded guilty to the drug charges that made his deportation virtually mandatory. He alleges that he would have insisted on going to trial if he had not received incorrect advice from his attorney.

Assuming the truth of his allegations, the Supreme Court of Kentucky denied Padilla postconviction relief without the benefit of an evidentiary hearing. The court held that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of effective assistance of counsel does not protect a criminal defendant from erroneous advice about deportation because it is merely a "collateral" consequence

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of his conviction. Id., at 485. In its view, neither counsel's failure to advise petitioner about the possibility of removal, nor counsel's incorrect advice, could provide a basis for relief.

We granted certiorari, 555 U.S. 1169, 129 S.Ct. 1317, 173 L.Ed.2d 582 (2009), to decide whether, as a matter of federal law, Padilla's counsel had an obligation to advise him that the offense to which he was pleading guilty would result in his removal from this country. We agree with Padilla that constitutionally competent counsel would have advised him that his conviction for drug distribution made him subject to automatic deportation. Whether he is entitled to relief depends on whether he has been prejudiced, a matter that we do not address.

I

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