Mellouli v. Holder

Brief for National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Immigrant Defense Project, and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.

Brief filed: 09/24/2014


Mellouli v. Holder

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 13-1034

Prior Decision

Decision below 719 F.3d 995 (8th Cir. 2013).


Simple possession of paraphernalia offenses are low-level crimes that, as charged and pleaded, often have no connection to a federally-scheduled controlled substance. Congress did not intend for convictions for low-level state paraphernalia offenses to categorically trigger removal. The circumstances under which possession of drug paraphernalia offenses are charged and pleaded only exacerbates the untoward effects of the Eighth Circuit’s rule. The Eighth Circuit’s rule sows uncertainty and unfairness for noncitizens and criminal defense lawyers and unduly burdens the court system. The Eighth Circuit’s rule severely complicates defense attorneys’ constitutional duty to provide correct advice regarding the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. The Eighth Circuit’s rule places defense attorneys in an intractable situation and burden the court system as a whole. The Eighth Circuit’s rule also entails significant unfairness for noncitizens, whether or not represented by counsel.

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Alan Schoenfeld and Ari J. Savitzky, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, New York, NY; Mark C. Fleming, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Boston, MA; Thomas G. Sprankling, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, DC.