The Supreme Court's decision in March in Padilla v. Kentucky is gaining increasing attention as a case that will have broad implications for all players in the criminal justice system. The 7-2 ruling obliges criminal defense lawyers to advise their noncitizen clients about the possible deportation consequences of accepting a plea agreement. But as we reported here last month, the decision is already providing fodder for defendants who were caught unaware about collateral consequences beyond the immigration context -- such as housing implications of pleading guilty to a sex offense, or gun-rights consequences of criminal pleas.
"It's big, and I don't think people really appreciate how big it is," said Margaret Love, a D.C. solo practitioner who specializes in clemency, restoration of rights and collateral consequences of pleas.
Love (pictured, right) is among the panelists on a discussion and town hall meeting on the Padilla case set for Aug. 25 at the Newseum in D.C., sponsored by the American Bar Association criminal justice section. The section has also set up a special task force to assess and alert members on the implications of Padilla.
Public defenders have voiced concern that the decision will put additional pressure on them to advise clients on complex immigration issues and in other areas of the law. Love also believes the decision may also create obligations for judges and prosecutors to give defendants information about the consequences of pleas. "It resets the balance in the plea context," said Love, also noting that "this is the first time the Supreme Court has regulated plea bargains."
Among speakers at the panel discussion Aug. 25 are D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman, Gwen Washington of the D.C. Defenders Service, Jack Chin from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and Fordham Law School professor Bruce Green, current chair of the section. Moderating will be George Washington University Law School professor Stephen Saltzburg.
Photo by Diego Radzinschi