Man deported after living in US since age 1 gets relief

June 26, 2015

An Indiana man who was ordered deported after pleading guilty to federal marijuana charges will be allowed to return to the country, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

Renato DeBartolo pleaded guilty to the charges and provided the government information which reduced his sentence, according to the record. Unbeknownst to DeBartolo, his guilty plea triggered immigration removal proceedings that ultimately led to his deportation to Italy.

Judge Robert L. Miller in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend denied DeBartolo’s petition for relief, but the 7th Circuit reversed. The panel, citing Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 369 (2010), held that DeBartolo was harmed by ineffective assistance of counsel because he was never informed of the possibility of deportation if he pleaded guilty.

In Renato DeBartolo v. United States of America 14-3579, Judge Richard Posner wrote that “the disarray in the enforcement of U.S. immigration law” should be considered in determining whether the government should retry DeBartolo.

“We are mindful that the parties and the district court are not required to consider the circumstances that DeBartolo would face if he went to trial today. The issue required by the Padilla line of cases to be considered is what he would have done, at the time he had to decide whether to plead guilty, had he known of the grave risk of being deported if he were convicted,” Posner wrote.

“There was a reasonable probability that he would not have pleaded guilty, and that is all that matters to our decision. But it would be sensible for both DeBartolo and the government to consider the current situation in assessing how to move forward. Conviction is not a forgone conclusion, and the government should consider whether
having served the prison sentence the government originally recommended and having then languished in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a year or more and then deported to a country in which he has never really lived, DeBartolo has been punished sufficiently and should now be allowed to go home to his wife and children without facing a new trial.”


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