The Supreme Court in Chaidez v. United States Decides That Padilla Applies Prospectively Only

In 2010, the Supreme Court in Padilla v. Kentucky held that the Sixth Amendment requires an attorney for a non-citizen criminal defendant to advise on the possibility of deportation that could result from a guilty plea. Failure to advise on these consequences could be the ineffective assistance of counsel. The question before the Court in Chaidez v. United States was whether the rule in Padilla applies retroactively, so as to provide relief to defendants who may have had ineffective assistance of counsel in past cases.

Chaidez was a lawful permanent resident of the United States. In the late nineties Chaidez plead guilty to two counts of mail fraud. Mail fraud is an aggravated felony, requiring mandatory removal from the country.

Removal proceedings were initiated in 2009 after Chaidez applied for citizenship and immigration officials received notice of her conviction.

While Chaidez’s proceeding was pending, Padilla was decided by the Supreme Court.

Related:  ArborYpsi Law Blog Post on Padilla v. Kentucky

To prevent removal, Chaidez sought to overturn her mail fraud conviction. Chaidez argued that she had the ineffective assistance of counsel during her criminal proceeding because her attorney never informed her that a guilty plea to mail fraud would lead to removal from the country.

Chaidez’s case then turned on whether the rule set out in Padilla applied retroactively. The analysis of this question comes from the case of Teague v. Lane, which held that a person whose conviction is final may not benefit from a new rule of criminal procedure on collateral review, such as a habeus proceeding. A new rule is declared if it breaks new ground or imposes a new obligation. However, Teague also states that a case does not announce a new rule when it is no more than an application of the law at the time.

Chaidez argued that Padilla does no more than apply an existing rule to a new set of facts.

The District Court vacated Chaidez’s conviction, holding that Padilla did not create a new rule, and therefore should apply to Chaidez, and that Chaidez had the ineffective assistance of counsel.

The Seventh Circuit on appeal reversed, ruling that Padilla declared a new rule and so should not apply to a challenge of a final conviction.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Seventh Circuit, deciding that Padilla does more than just apply the usual assistance of counsel rule to the situation of criminal representation.  Padilla applied effective assistance of counsel rules to the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, which had not previously been done. Supreme Court ruled that Padilla did create a new rule. Therefore, Padilla does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review.

Chaidez’s conviction was ultimately upheld.

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