Padilla Ruling Not To Be Applied Retroactively

On March 31, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States held that defense counsel in criminal proceedings must advise their clients on the immigration consequences of any guilty plea.  Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473.  On February 20, 2013, the Court ruled that its holding in Padilla would not apply retroactively to cases already on final direct review.  Chaidez v. United States, slip opinion found here.  Roselva Chaidez pled guilty to mail fraud in 2004, but deportation proceedings were not initiated against her until 2009.  In order to avoid removal, she tried to have the criminal conviction overturned by petitioning for a writ of coram norbis.

In her petition, Chaidez alleged that her attorney’s failure to advise her of the immigration consequences of her 2004 guilty plea constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment.  While her petition was pending, Padilla was decided.  The District Court reviewing her petition for a writ of coram norbis had to decide whether to apply the Padilla ruling to Chaidez’s case using the analysis developed by Teague v. Lane, 489 U. S. 288 (1989).  The holding in Teague states that a criminal defendant may not benefit from a new rule of criminal procedure on collateral review, so the District Court, more specifically, had to determine whether Padilla announced a new rule or merely expanded on an existing rule.  The District Court held that Padilla did not announce a new rule, and applied the holding to Chaidez’s case.  In its decision, the Supreme Court disagreed and upheld the Seventh Circuit’s reversal of the District Court’s decision.

Under Teague, a “case announces a new rule if the result was not dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant’s conviction became final.”  489 U.S. at 301.  A case does not “announce a new rule, [when] it [is] merely an application of the principle that governed” a prior decision to a different set of facts.  Id. at 307.  Thus, in the case at bar, the Supreme Court had to determine whether Padilla was merely an application of the ineffective assistance of counsel test enumerated by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 (1984), or whether it went beyond the Strickland holding.

The Court found that “Padilla did more than just apply Strickland’s general standard to yet another factual situation” because it also considered the threshold question of whether advice about deportation was a component of a criminal sentence or whether it was only a “collateral consequence” of a conviction.  Chaidez Syllabus, page 2.  Because Padilla ultimately created a new rule that deportation was part of a criminal sentence rather than a collateral consequence of conviction, it could not be applied retroactively to Chaidez’s case.  Therefore, any deportation proceedings initiated for convictions finalized prior to March 31, 2010, when Padilla was decided, will not be interrupted or overturned based on the Padilla holding.