Deportee Must Show Counsel Provided Ineffective Assistance Before Plea

The United States District Court in New York refused Charmaine Brown’s pro se plea for extraordinary relief seeking a vacation of her 2011 conviction for importation of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The Court, in Brown v. US, No. 11-cv-3443 (SLT). (Dist. Ct. ED NY 2014), rejected her writ of error coram nobisunder the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a) on the ground that she did not prove her legal counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel to her at the time she tendered her negotiated plea to the drug offense.

According to the Court, Brown did not show that her attorney had inadequately apprised her of the threat of deportation if she plead guilty to this offense. The record from the plea hearing shows that she signed a plea agreement which indicated she knew she may be subject to deportation and that she “wants to plead guilty regardless of any immigration consequences. She also verbally “confirmed, on the record, that she understood the consequences of pleading guilty, including that “as a consequence of [her] plea, it is likely that [she] will be deported and [she] will not be allowed to re-enter this country.” And in asking for a sentence which falls below the Sentencing Guidelines applicable to her offense, her attorney even noted that his client “will be deported at the end of her sentence, which will be an extreme hardship for her.” In the face of all of this evidence, the District Court concluded she had not received ineffective assistance of counsel.

This outcome reinforces the view that a defendant wishing to have her conviction vacated  must be able to demonstrate that her attorney did not make her aware of the consequences of entering such a plea at the time she considers whether to plead guilty to an offense which would trigger deportation from the country.  The record in this Brown case contained substantial proof that she had been notified of the likelihood of deportation.

The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.  In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.