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COA addresses impact of guilty pleas on immigration status

November 28, 2011

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a man’s petitions for post-conviction relief, finding his attorneys’ failure to advise him of adverse immigration consequences of pleading guilty did not prejudice his defense.

In Manuel Trujillo v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-1102-PC-73, Manuel Trujillo appealed the denial of his petitions for post-conviction relief stemming from two cases – one in 1999 and one in 2008 – when he pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to deal marijuana. After he pleaded guilty in 2008 he was deported to Mexico, from where he immigrated in 1974.

Trujillo argued that his attorneys in both cases rendered ineffective assistance by not alerting him of the possibility of deportation in the event he pleaded guilty to a drug charge. The appellate court declined to address the issues raised in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.Ct. 1473 (2010), involving the responsibility of counsel, and also whether that case is retroactive, because the judges could resolve Trujillo’s case on grounds of lack of a showing of prejudice.

Regarding his 1999 conviction, Trujillo admitted at the post-conviction hearing that he would have pleaded guilty even if he had been told at the time about possible deportation. Regarding the 2008 conviction, the appellate court rejected his argument that his case is a “special circumstance” within the meaning of Segura v. State, 749 N.E.2d. 496 (Ind. 2001). Trujillo did not demonstrate he suffered prejudice as a result of neither of his attorneys advising him on the adverse immigration consequences of pleading guilty.

The COA also cited Williams v. State, 641 N.E.2d 44 (Ind. Ct. App. 1994), to reject Trujillo’s claim that the trial court had a duty to inquire whether he understood that a guilty plea might carry with it negative immigration consequences.
 

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