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IDP Contributes to Two Major Appellate Victories that Help Ensure the Promise of Padilla in New York State

IDP has been working steadfastly to ensure the promise of Padilla both across the state and nationally by attempting to shape the way courts interpret the scope of post-conviction relief for Padilla advisals. We are pleased to share these two exciting recent victories:

Appellate Division, First Department Holds that Padilla Applies Retroactively to Convictions at Least as Far Back as 1996
In People v. Baret, amicus IDP teamed up with Attorney Labe Richman and convinced the Appellate Division, First Dept. that Padilla applies retroactively to convictions as far back as 1996 (the court expressed no opinion on the applicability of Padilla to pleas taken prior to 1996). No other Appellate Dept. has explicitly addressed the issue, although other Departments have implied that Padilla applies retroactively. Therefore, the Baret decision currently applies to all trial courts in NY state. Prior to the Baret decision, trial courts were split on retroactivity, so that some defendants were allowed to present the merits of their Padilla claims and others were not. The Court sent Mr. Baret’s case back to the trial court for a hearing on the motion to vacate the plea. Click here for the NY Law Journal coverage of the Baret decision.

Appellate Division, First Department Holds that under Padilla, Defense Counsel has a Duty to Inquire about Clients’ Citizenship; Prejudice Prong Can Be Met by Showing Attorney’s Failure to Seek Reasonable Immigration-Safe Plea
In People v. Chacko, amicus IDP and Center for Appellate Litigation attorney Robin Nichinsky combined efforts to persuade the First Dept. that under Padilla, defense counsel has a duty to ask a defendant whether he is a U.S. citizen. The Chacko Court rejected the People’s argument that would have placed the burden on a defendant to show that his attorney was aware, or should have reasonably been aware, that the client was a noncitizen in order to trigger the obligation to give advice regarding immigration consequences. Instead, the Court placed the duty to ask about citizenship squarely on the defense attorney. In addition, IDP and CAL successfully convinced the Court to make two important findings regarding the prejudice prong of a post-conviction relief motion: 1) Trial courts must consider the defendant’s desire to avoid deportation when deciding whether the defendant would have rationally rejected the plea; and 2) A defendant can show prejudice from his attorney’s failure to seek a reasonable immigration-safe plea. The Court sent Mr. Chacko’s case back to the trial court for a hearing on the motion to vacate the plea.

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