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Judges advise defense attorneys to ask clients about citizenship

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The Indiana Court of Appeals used its decision on a post-conviction relief appeal to “encourage” criminal defense attorneys to find out the citizenship of their clients and advise the clients as to the risks of deportation after pleading guilty.

Mark Clarke, who came to the U.S. from Barbados, claimed his trial attorney, Michael Caudill, provided ineffective assistance because he failed to inform Clarke that if he pleaded guilty to a drug charge, he could be deported. Caudill admitted in an affidavit that he did not advise Clarke that his guilty plea to Class B felony dealing in cocaine could subject him to deportation.

The post-conviction court denied Clarke’s petition for relief, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. In Mark Clarke v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1202-PC-65, the judges analyzed his case using Segura v. State, 749 N.E.2d 496 (Ind. 2001). Clarke argued that the requisite special circumstances in his case that justify setting aside the plea are that he has been in the U.S. for 11 years, his two children were born here, and, if deported, he may not see them again.

Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote that 11 years is not a long enough time to compel a finding of special circumstances and pointed out that Clarke’s two children were still in-utero when he pleaded guilty in 2007 and he is not married to either of his children’s mothers.

Also, the state had a strong case against Clarke if it were to proceed to trial, which included the drugs, a large amount of cash in his car, and likely the testimony of the two officers at the scene of the traffic stop and arrest. Clarke also received a significant benefit in exchange for his guilty plea, Friedlander noted.

He failed to establish that he was prejudiced by Caudill’s failure to advise him of the risk of deportation.

The appellate court also devoted a portion of its opinion to suggest that defense attorneys find out whether their clients are citizens and, if not, tell them about the risks of deportation. This would “obviate the need for post-conviction and appellate courts to undertake a ‘special circumstances’ analysis,” he wrote.

Friedlander also pointed out that this issue is coming up in other states, and the early trend appears to be in favor of imposing a duty on criminal defense attorneys to ascertain the citizenship status of their clients.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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