Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association for Public Defense, Immigrant Defense Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild as Amici Curiae in Support of the Petitioner-Appellant.
Argument: The lower court erred in holding that defense counsel need only advise noncitizen clients of possible deportation when deportation is in fact virtually certain. The lower court disregarded the holding of Padilla v. Kentucky. Counsel must give a strong warning of virtual certain deportation even if relief in immigration court is potentially available. Ample attorney resources make it easy to provide accurate advice of clear immigration consequences. Noncitizen defendants who fail to receive clear and accurate advice about the true likelihood of deportation can establish prejudice, notwithstanding notice of possible deportation. Because judicial warnings about immigration consequences of a plea differ categorically from advisals by defense counsel, they do not purge prejudice. Equivocal information about the risk of deportation does not cure prejudice when deportation is practically inevitable.
Brief in Support of Appellant by Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Argument: The trial court erred in barring the defense from introducing evidence to support the basis for the legal opinion Mathis gave to his client. Ambiguity in the statute with regard to mens rea requires the court to insert an appropriate state of mind element. The "knowledge" element of an offense occasionally includes knowledge of a legal "fact." The trial court improperly removed the mens rea element in this case. In the alternative, a mistake of law defense was appropriate in this case. Denying Mathis the right to present this evidence resulted in the denial of his right to present a defense.