Appeals court to decide immigration case

Jose Padiliaweb
Jose Padilla

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.: Imprisoned drug offender Jose Padilla won a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said his attorney erred in failing to warn him about of the possibility of deportation after a guilty plea, but Padilla has been unable so far to take advantage of the widely cited decision that bears his name.
His attorneys have asked the Kentucky Court of Appeals to toss out Padilla’s guilty plea to transporting 1,000 pounds of marijuana. Public defender Tim Arnold told a three-judge panel that Padilla made an irrational decision based on erroneous information from his attorney.
Padilla, a native of Honduras who is a permanent legal resident of the United States, in 2001 accepted five years in prison and five years of probation instead of going to trial. His attorney at the time told Padilla that deportation wasn’t a concern, even though federal law makes removal from the country automatic for some felonies. An acquittal in the case would have meant that Padilla wouldn’t face deportation.
“He didn’t know he was going to be deported,” Arnold told the judges. “This is not a case where he was offered a sweetheart deal.”
Assistant Attorney General William Long countered that despite his attorney’s bad advice, the defendant had to make a rational decision about whether to accept a plea or go to trial. In this case, Padilla made such a decision, Long said.
“It’s easy to be somewhat sympathetic to Padilla,” Long said. “But, the evidence against him was overwhelming.”
Padilla, a U.S. military veteran who received an honorable discharge after serving in Vietnam, was driving 32,000 pounds of cargo from California to Illinois. For unexplained reasons, he passed through Kentucky and was stopped in Hardin County, near Elizabethtown. A police search of his truck turned up 23 boxes of marijuana stacked near the rear of his load.
After being told that deportation wasn’t an issue, Padilla agreed to the guilty plea. Only later, Arnold said, after being paroled from state prison did Padilla learn he was going to be returned to Honduras. The U.S. Supreme Court found his attorney’s advice unconstitutionally bad in a case that has made an impact on plea agreements and immigration cases around the country. The high court sent Padilla’s case back for a determination about whether the bad advice resulted in his making a decision that couldn’t be considered rational.
Hardin Circuit Judge Kelly Easton ruled that Padilla made a reasonable decision to take a plea, despite the errant advice from his attorney. Padilla appealed, hoping to withdraw the guilty plea and work out a deal that wouldn’t result in deportation.
The appellate panel, meeting at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, appeared skeptical that Padilla would have pleaded guilty to the top count of the indictment without some sort of guarantee from prosecutors.
“I can’t imagine any circumstances … why you would agree to that deal,” Judge Donna Dixon said. “I wouldn’t take that deal.”
“Presumably, a life outside this country would be preferable to a life in the penitentiary,” Long replied.
Judge Kelly Thompson questioned why Padilla, who has lived in the United States for more than 40 years, hasn’t sought citizenship.
“I guess now he wishes he got his citizenship after all these years,” Thompson said.
“Obviously, he would make a different decision if he had to do it again,” Arnold said, noting that Padilla has six children. “If he was to be deported, it would be the end of his family unit. They would not be able to travel to see him and he would not be able to travel to see them.” -AP

0 - 0

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!