On March 31, 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Padilla v. Kentucky that the Sixth Amendment guarantee of effective assistance of counsel requires a criminal defense lawyer to advise a non-citizen client that pleading guilty to an aggravated felony will trigger mandatory, automatic deportation. The Supreme Court of Kentucky had ruled that a guilty plea induced by bad advice does not amount to ineffective assistance of counsel and does not warrant setting aside the guilty plea. In reversing the decision below, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote: "[A] constitutionally competent counsel would have advised him that his conviction for drug distribution made him subject to automatic deportation." Justice Samuel Alito filed a concurring opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. Justice Antonin Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Clarence Thomas joined.
Learn more about the constitutional requirements of right to counsel from the JURIST news archive.
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