Florida High Court Hears Deportation Cases

By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida
By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, May 9, 2012 -

Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida

Following a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a Kentucky case, the Florida Supreme Court is being asked to clarify how much attorneys must advise clients who are not U.S. citizens that their decision on how to plead could have them deported.

On Tuesday, the Florida court took testimony in three cases in which the clients claimed they were not adequately advised by their attorneys that the course of action they were pursuing could lead to mandatory deportation.

The cases come two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Padilla v. Kentucky that attorneys must advise non-citizen clients about deportation risks of a guilty plea. The ruling has sparked a flurry of cases from defendants who are not U.S. citizens and whose cases were decided before Padilla or while the Kentucky case was working its way through the court.

Nearly 50 Florida cases have already been filed.

Among the issues the state high court faces, is whether or not the Padilla decision was significant enough to require that the law be applied retroactively.

A lawyer in the attorney general's office argued for the state that Florida has since 1989 had a rule that defense attorneys must advise their clients that deportation may be a consequence of a guilty verdict. As such, there is no need to go back and address those cases again, said Kristen Davenport, who argued all three cases on behalf of the state.

Florida rules of criminal procedure already require that judges inform defendants that a guilty or nolo contendere plea could result in deportation if they are not U.S. citizens.

"The defendants in Florida were not completely in the dark," Davenport said.

During questioning, Justice Barbara Pariente said that the knowledge of whether or not a plea agreement could or would produce a mandatory deportation provision was critical if the defendant was to make an informed decision.

"That goes to the essence as to whether you are going to take the plea or not," Pariente said.

The cases Tuesday reflected nuances in some ways different from Padilla. One case involved a client who was placed on probation and adjudication was withheld. The second case involved a defendant who claimed he pleaded guilty to charges without knowing they would bring about mandatory deportation.

A third case involved a day care center owner who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one day in jail and went back to have the judgment vacated. She is also facing mandatory deportation.

The court doesn't have a timeline for ruling on the matter.


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  • by Zoraida Location: Lakeland on Jun 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM
    For those of you who do not understand this law, it was passed under Clinton's regime. It not only schedules LEGAL immigrants for immediated deportation if they plead guilty or nolocontendre to ANY crime (traffic tickets included), it deports them for crimes committed at ANY time in their lives in the U.S., even those committed as juveniles, after they have served their time and returned to society and committed NO other crimes in 45 years. It makes no distinction for U.S. Veterans who served honorably, earned medals of valor or served in war. It puts a blanket over ALL immigrants and makes their deportation just a traffic stop away. This means a grandfather, with children, grandchildren, a home, a business, a spouse, who has been a model citizen since his crime, can be deported for speeding. See the Valenzuela brothers in Texas, whose MOTHER WAS A CITIZEN to see just how petty and destructive the improper application of the law can be. How easy to sit back with your INHERITED citizenship and point fingers and make a blanket statement like "Just give them the boot...". The only thing that seperates you from them is the luck of your birthplace, which was not even your own doing. Don't be so quick to claim pride for something you never earned.
  • by amazedinTally Location: Tallahassee on May 9, 2012 at 10:18 AM
    Ok, being a bit confused here.....NON-US citizens, either here illegally or on visas, commit a crime, and are arrested. They face prison time, and know they broke the law. They are not even citizens, so they are surprised when they are being deported. They can't even stay out of trouble long enough to become citizens, and we really care what they think???? If a non-citizen breaks the law, deportation should be immediate upon conviction. No prison time, etc. Just give them the boot and put them on the no-entry list.
  • by Mary Location: Tally on May 9, 2012 at 10:16 AM
    The court/legal system makes things to complicated. If they are here illegally there should be manditory deportation. Stop clogging up the court system.
  • by Jane on May 9, 2012 at 09:12 AM
    Until we the people can get our hands on the original birth certificates of pretty boy Rubio and the unindicted criminal Scott I don't see where they get the kahones to kick out others.
    • reply
      by Leona on May 9, 2012 at 01:25 PM in reply to Jane
      While you're at it, could you find Obama's for us also?
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