What happens when the procedure for federal courts breaks down across the nation? Where each district rules on a single procedure differently? SCOTUS has to decide.
This is the case before the Supreme Court right now. Lee v. United States is a case docketed for oral argument during the October 2016 term of the U.S. Supreme Court. Argument in the case is scheduled for March 28, 2017. The case comes on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
- A legal, nonresident alien pleaded guilty to a charge on the assurance of his attorney that he would not be deported if he pleaded guilty. This advice was in error, and the defendant moved to vacate his sentence claiming ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment.
- The Sixth Circuit denied the claim, holding that the defendant failed to demonstrate that counsel’s performance was prejudicial towards the defendant.
- The issue: Is the Sixth Circuit’s standard for evaluating claims of ineffective assistance of counsel consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard for evaluating such claims?
- The outcome: The appeal is pending adjudication before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jae Lee moved to the United States with his family from South Korea in 1982 and has lived in the United States legally since that time. Unlike his parents, however, Lee never became an American citizen.
In 2009, he was charged with possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1). Lee’s attorney advised him to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. Lee did this on the assurance from counsel that if he pleaded guilty his offense would not subject him to deportation from the United States.
Possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute, however, is considered an aggravated felony under federal law, which made Lee subject to deportation. Lee filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence under 28 U.S.C. §2255, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment.
Federal Appeals court of the Sixth District ruled against Lee so he challenged it based on ” consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard for demonstrating prejudice when claiming the ineffective assistance of counsel.” Now the case has moved up through the system to the Supreme Court.
According to the Scotus.blog –
“Issue: Whether it is always irrational for a noncitizen defendant with longtime legal resident status and extended familial and business ties to the United States to reject a plea offer notwithstanding strong evidence of guilt when the plea would result in mandatory and permanent deportation.”
I have questions on this which obviously can’t be covered. It appears to me that what has been made public is not the entire story.
First, if his parents became legal citizens, then why did he not also move to do the same? Is there not some way immigration has to keep up with their children such as tax returns to be able to contact them and set up a quicker legal citizen status for their children say at age eighteen?
I have heard many times of attorneys saying “take the deal”, “reduced if you plead guilty”. I have some respect for lawyers but having worked for a short time in a lawyer’s office myself have seen them provide in a few cases poor or less than good advice for one reason or another. No one is perfect nor able to know every aspect of their profession. Plus, there is always the possibility of kickback to a lawyer who fast tracks.
Shouldn’t everyone who is charged be given the same right to their day in court? It is possible the judge would provide clarity, in some cases even prevent sentencing of innocents when there is no need, or sidetrack illegal backroom deals.
Ecstacy is a horrible blight on our people. Those manufacturing and selling deserve the death penalty as surely as if they murdered innocents with a gun.
Nevertheless this could end up being ammunition for lots of illegal immigrants to prevent them from deportation or change the outcome of a case.