Court: Man who got bad legal advice, can’t withdraw plea leading to deportation

There are new rules and there are old rules and sometimes people have to leave the country because of old rules no longer in effect. An example comes today from the Minnesota Supreme Court, which has handed defeat to a man who wanted the right to withdraw a guilty plea, because he hadn’t been told it would mean he likely would be deported.

The right to do so was conveyed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, but that was a year after Rene Reyes Campos pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of simple robbery and was given a stayed sentenced of three years (I first wrote about this case here). Campos had been a lawful resident of the U.S. since 2002, but his attorney didn’t tell him that his guilty plea would lead to deportation.

Last year the Minnesota’s Court of Appeals ruled that Campos should be allowed to withdraw his plea, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision should give him the protection from ineffective counsel.

Today, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Gildea said it does not.

Gildea acknowledged that Campos’ counsel was ineffective when viewed in the context of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. “But under our precedent at the time of Reyes Campos’ please, his counsel was not effective,” she wrote.

Justice Gildea said that the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Padilla” decision “announced a new rule of criminal procedure.” She said Minnesota is not bound to provide it retroactively.

In a dissent, however, Justice Alan Page said there is no dispute that Reyes Campos received bad advice from his attorney. “prevailing professional norms in Minnesota at the time Reyes Campos’ conviction became final dictated that Reyes Campos’ counsel provide his client with information about the clear deportation consequences of his guilty plea,” Justice Page wrote. “The failure of Reyes Campos’ attorney to ensure that Reyes Campos received the required immigration warnings fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.”

Full decision here.

  • Jim Shapiro

    In the light of several recent decisions, it would be in the interest of justice and their own health and well being to have the members of the supreme court undergo a series of medical and psychiatric tests.