In a not-so-surprising but still significant decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Bonilla found that a public defender rendered ineffective assistance of counsel when he failed to advise a client of immigration consequences, even after he had been asked about it by the client’s wife. While a positive case for those in the pro-Padilla camp, it is important to point out that the matter came to the Bonilla court on a motion to withdraw a plea under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 (d)(2)(B). This rule allows for the pre-sentence withdrawal of a plea for “fair and just” reasons, which, as the Bonilla court noted, is a “liberal” and “generous” standard. That being said, I would venture to guess that a court might have a hard time denying a habeas claim under the same facts. The decision can be downloaded here.
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About the AuthorAlbert Wan is a criminal defense and civil rights attorney in Atlanta, GA.
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