The Michigan Court of Appeals Rules that Padilla Applies Prospectively Only

The Michigan Court of Appeals in People v. Gomez was asked whether the United States Supreme Court decision Padilla v. Kentucky would apply to cases that were already decided and ruled that Padilla’s effect would not be retroactive.

In Padilla, the Supreme Court held that criminal defense counsel must advise a non-citizen defendant that a guilty plea may result in deportation. Failure to advise on the basic deportation consequences could be ineffective assistance counsel.

Defendant Gomez was a citizen of Mexico but had resided in America for most of his life.  He was convicted of possession with intent to deliver and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Four years after Gomez finished his sentence that included jail and probation, he was informed by the Department of Homeland Security that his conviction rendered him deportable.

The following year, the United States Supreme Court issued the Padilla decision.

Related:  ArborYpsi Law Blog Post on Padilla v. Kentucky

After Padilla was decided, Gomez attempted to have his conviction set aside in trial court, arguing that defense counsel did not inform him of the immigration consequences, and had he been aware of those consequences he would have instead gone to trial. The trial court refused to set aside the conviction. A defendant will be entitled to relief from a judgment if a retroactive change in the law alters the validity of the conviction.

The Court discussed whether a law applies retroactively under both federal and Michigan law. Under both tests, the Court determined that Padilla should not have retroactive application.

In the end, the trial court was upheld and Gomez was denied relief.

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