Supreme Court hears arguments on ineffective assistance of counsel resulting in deporation
Supreme Court hears arguments on ineffective assistance of counsel resulting in deporation

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] in Lee v. United States [docket]. In Lee v. United States [SCOTUSblog materials] the court is considering whether it is expected that a non-citizen resident with strong ties to the US would reject a plea offer that would result in mandatory deportation, and therefore advice by counsel to the contrary would constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. The case is a result of an individual being counseled by his attorney to accept a plea offer and assured that he would not be deported, when in fact accepting the offer mandated deportation. Petitioner argued that it would have been rational and expected that Lee would have rejected the plea offer due to the potential deportation and his strong ties to the US. Furthermore, it is appropriate for such an individual to attempt to negotiate a deal that does not result in deportation or take his chances at trial. Therefore, since Lee was given bad legal advice by his attorney he has been prejudiced and should have the lower court decision vacated. Respondent in turn argued that Lee had no solid defense and therefore had no chance at trial or in negotiating for a better deal. Therefore, under the court’s jurisprudence In Padilla v. Kentucky and Strickland v. Washington [opinions], a defendant cannot avoid a conviction regardless of incompetent counsel unless they can prove competent counsel would have provide an alternative preferable result.