Padilla v. Kentucky


DOCKET NO.: 08-651
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2009-2010)
LOWER COURT: Kentucky Supreme Court

CITATION: 559 US 356 (2010)
GRANTED: Feb 23, 2009
ARGUED: Oct 13, 2009
DECIDED: Mar 31, 2010

Michael R. Dreeben – Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae
Stephen B. Kinnaird – argued the cause for the petitioner
Wm. Robert Long Jr. – argued the cause for the respondent

Facts of the case

Jose Padilla was indicted by a Kentucky grand jury on counts of trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and operating a tractor/trailer without a weight and distance tax number. On advice from his lawyer, he entered a guilty plea with respect to the three drug charges in exchange for dismissal on the final charge. He subsequently filed for post-conviction relief arguing that he was misadvised about the potential for deportation as a consequence of his guilty plea. The Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed Mr. Padilla’s conviction and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing.

On appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court, the court, relying on its decision inCommonwealth v. Fuartado, reversed the court of appeals. It held that collateral consequences of advice by counsel is outside the scope of the guarantee of the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel. It reasoned that counsel’s advice on the consequences of a plea with respect to immigration is not required and therefore cannot constitute ineffectiveness.


1) Is the mandatory deportation that results from a guilty plea to trafficking in marijuana a “collateral consequence” that relieves counsel of an affirmative duty to advise his client per the guarantees of the Sixth Amendment?

2) Assuming deportation is a “collateral consequence”, can counsel’s gross misadvice about deportation constitute a ground for setting aside a guilty plea that is induced by that advice?

Media for Padilla v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 13, 2009 in Padilla v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 31, 2010 in Padilla v. Kentucky

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Justice Stevens has our opinion this morning in case 08-651, Padilla versus Kennedy.

John Paul Stevens:

A petitioner Jose Padilla is a non citizen who’s been a lawful resident of the United States for more than 40 years.

He now faces automatic deportation because he pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana in Kentucky.

Padilla claims that his attorney not only failed to advise him that his guilty plea would lead his deportation, but also told him that he did not have to worry about his immigration status since he had been in the country so long.

He now seeks to vacate his plea alleging that it was the product of constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky rejected Padilla’s claim, concluding that the Sixth Amendment does not protect a criminal defendant from erroneous advice in this context because deportation is just a collateral consequence of the criminal prosecution.

We disagree.

In this case the consequences of Padilla’s plea could easily have been determined from reading the statute that governs remove.

His deportation was presumptively mandatory and his counsel’s advice was incorrect.

Padilla has thus demonstrated deficient attorney performance.

Whether he is entitled to relief, depends on whether he has been prejudiced, a matter that we do not address because it was not reached below.

We therefore reverse the judgment of the Kentucky Supreme Court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Justice Alito has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment that is joined by the Chief Justice.

Justice Scalia has filed a dissenting opinion that is joined by Justice Thomas.