Chaidez v. United States
568 U.S. ___ (2013)

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Justia Opinion Summary
Immigration officials initiated removal proceedings against Chaidez in 2009 upon learning that she had pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 2004. To avoid removal, she sought to overturn that conviction by filing a petition for a writ of coram nobis, contending that her former attorney’s failure to advise her of the guilty plea’s immigration consequences constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. While her petition was pending, the Supreme Court held, in Padilla v. Kentucky, that the Sixth Amendment requires defense attorneys to inform non-citizen clients of the deportation risks of guilty pleas. The district court vacated Chaidez’s conviction. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that Padilla had declared a new rule and should not apply in a challenge to a final conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed. Padilla does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review. A case does not announce a new rule if it merely applies a principle that governed a prior decision to a different set of facts. Padilla’s ruling answered an open question about the Sixth Amendment’s reach, in a way that altered the law of most jurisdictions, breaking new ground and imposing a new obligation.

NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321 .

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

CHAIDEZ v. UNITED STATES

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit

No. 11–820. Argued November 1, 2012—Decided February 20, 2013

Immigration officials initiated removal proceedings against petitioner Chaidez in 2009 upon learning that she had pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 2004. To avoid removal, she sought to overturn that conviction by filing a petition for a writ of coram nobis, contending that her former attorney’s failure to advise her of the guilty plea’s immigration consequences constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment. While her petition was pending, this Court held in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U. S. ___, that the Sixth Amendment requires defense attorneys to inform non-citizen clients of the deportation risks of guilty pleas. The District Court vacated Chaidez’s conviction, determining that Padilla did not announce a “new rule” under Teague v. Lane, 489 U. S. 288 , and thus applied to Chaidez’s case. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that Padilla had declared a new rule and should not apply in a challenge to a final conviction.

Held: Padilla does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review. Pp. 3−15.

     (a) Under Teague, a person whose conviction is already final may not benefit from a new rule of criminal procedure on collateral review. A “case announces a new rule if the result was not dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant’s conviction became final.” Teague, 489 U. S., at 301. And a holding is not so dictated unless it would have been “apparent to all reasonable jurists.” Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U. S. 518 −528. At the same time, a case does not “announce a new rule, [when] it [is] merely an application of the principle that governed” a prior decision to a different set of facts. Teague, 489 U. S., at 307. Thus, garden-variety applications of the test in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 , for assessing ineffective assistance claims do not produce new rules, id., at 687−688.

     But Padilla did more than just apply Strickland’s general standard to yet another factual situation. Before deciding if failing to inform a client about the risk of deportation “fell below [Strickland’s] objective standard of reasonableness,” 466 U. S., at 688, Padilla first considered the threshold question whether advice about deportation was “categorically removed” from the scope of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel because it involved only a “collateral consequence” of a conviction, rather than a component of a criminal sentence, 559 U. S., at ___. That is, prior to asking how the Strickland test applied, Padilla asked whether that test applied at all.

     That preliminary question came to the Court unsettled. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U. S. 52 , had explicitly left open whether the Sixth Amendment right extends to collateral consequences. That left the issue to the state and lower federal courts, and they almost unanimously concluded that the Sixth Amendment does not require attorneys to inform their clients of a conviction’s collateral consequences, including deportation. Padilla’s contrary ruling thus answered an open question about the Sixth Amendment’s reach, in a way that altered the law of most jurisdictions. In so doing, Padilla broke new ground and imposed a new obligation. Pp. 3−11.

     (b) Chaidez argues that Padilla did no more than apply Strickland to a new set of facts. But she ignores that Padilla had to develop new law to determine that Strickland applied at all. The few lower court decisions she cites held only that a lawyer may not affirmatively misrepresent his expertise or otherwise actively mislead his client as to any important matter. Those rulings do not apply to her case, and they do not show that all reasonable judges thought that lawyers had to advise their clients about deportation risks. Neither does INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U. S. 289 , have any relevance here. In saying that a reasonably competent lawyer would tell a non-citizen client about a guilty plea’s deportation consequences, St. Cyr did not determine that the Sixth Amendment requires a lawyer to provide such information. It took Padilla to decide that question. Pp. 11–15.

655 F. 3d 684, affirmed.

     Kagan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia, Kennedy, Breyer, and Alito, JJ., joined. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Sotomayor, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg, J., joined.

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