Chaidez v. United States

PETITIONER: Roselva Chaidez
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

DOCKET NO.: 11-820
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 568 US (2013)
GRANTED: Apr 30, 2012
ARGUED: Nov 01, 2012
DECIDED: Feb 20, 2013

Jeffrey L. Fisher - for the petitioner
Michael R. Dreeben - Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent

Facts of the case

Roselva Chaidez came to the United States from Mexico in 1971; she became a lawful permanent resident in 1977. In 2003, she was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on three counts of mail fraud in connection with an insurance scheme. On the advice of her attorney, Chaidez pleaded guilty and received a sentence of four years of probation. The U.S. government initiated removal proceedings in 2009 under a federal law that allows deportation of any alien who commits an aggravated felony. Chaidez's attorney never told her that pleading guilty could lead to her deportation.

Chaidez filed for a writ of coram nobis, arguing ineffective assistance of counsel. While this motion was pending before the district court, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, holding that it is ineffective assistance of counsel when an attorney fails to advise a client that he or she may face deportation as a result of pleading guilty. The district court concluded that Padilla did not announce a new rule, so its holding applied to Chaidez's case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that Padilla does announce a new rule and is not retroactively applicable in this case.


Does the Padilla rule on ineffective assistance of counsel apply to persons whose convictions became final before its announcement?

Media for Chaidez v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 01, 2012 in Chaidez v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 20, 2013 in Chaidez v. United States

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Justice Kagan has the opinion of the Court in number 11-820, Chaidez versus United States.

Elena Kagan:

Three years ago in the case called Padilla v. Kentucky, this Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires criminal defense attorneys to warn their clients whenever pleading guilty to a crime could cause them to be deported.

The question in this case is whether that decision applies retroactively so that the defendants whose convictions became final prior to Padilla can benefit from its rule.

The petitioner here, Roselva Chaidez, pleaded guilty to two crimes that unbeknownst to her made her deportable.

Her convictions became final in 200.

After the government initiated deportation proceedings, she filed this suite, she can collateral relief to overturn her convictions.

She argued that her attorney's failure to inform her that pleading guilty could lead to deportation constituted ineffective assistance of counsel, and violation of the Sixth Amendment.

While her suit was pending, we held in Padilla that her view of the Sixth Amendment was right, but the court below, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that Chaidez could not benefit from Padilla because her conviction became final before we decided that case.

The tests we used to determine whether one of our criminal procedure decisions applies retroactively comes from a case called Teague v. Lane.

In Teague, we held that any decision announcing a new rule would not apply to people like Chaidez whose conviction had already become final.And we explained that a case announces a new rule whenever its result was not dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant's conviction became final.

But in another way, a decision is new if its result would not already have been apparent to all reasonable judges.

If Padilla announced a new rule according to this test, Chaidez cannot benefit from it.

At the same time, we have said that a case does not announce a new rule when it merely applies a general standard from a prior decision to a new set of facts.

One such standard is the test we established in Strickland v. Washington for assessing when a lawyer has given a criminal defendant incompetent advice in violation of the Sixth Amendment.

Garnering variety applications of Strickland do not produce new rules.

So, if our decision in Padilla had merely applied Strickland had merely said that a lawyer who fails to inform his client about deportation is professionally incompetent, then we would not have announced a new rule.

But we hold today the Padilla did something more.

Before the Padilla Court could apply Strickland, it had to decide as a threshold matter whether Strickland had any relevance to the case at all.

And in doing that, the Court announced a new rule.

Before Padilla, courts across the country held that the Strickland test was utterly irrelevant when a lawyer provided or failed to provide advice about deportation.

That's because deportation was viewed as a collateral consequence of a conviction, something outside the scope of the criminal proceeding itself.

On this view, a lawyer could act completely incompetently with respect to giving advice about deportation and a way that clearly would have flunked the Strickland test and still it would not count as a violation of the Sixth Amendment because it was about an immigration matter, which was separate from the criminal from the criminal proceeding.

Before Padilla came along, nearly 40 state and lower federal courts had adapted that view.Only two had held to the contrary.

What Padilla did that was new and it was very new was to say that this understanding of the Sixth Amendment scope was wrong.

Padilla held that the Sixth Amendment applied to a lawyer giving a criminal defendant advice about deportation, even though deportation was a matter of separate from the criminal preceding.

In other words, Padilla held for the first time that advice about deportation consequences had to satisfy the Sixth Amendment and so had to pass the Strickland test.

Only after we decided that could we proceed to apply Strickland in a usual way.

And that preliminary holding was not apparent to all reasonable judges before we decided Padilla.

Indeed, as I have just indicated, it was hardly apparent to any of them and our decision changed the prevailing law in almost every jurisdiction in the United States.

We accordingly affirm the judgment of the Seventh Circuit.