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Padilla v. Kentucky

Case Name
Padilla v. Kentucky
582 U.S. 356
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
John Paul Stevens
Judge(s) - Majority
Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, John Paul Stevens
Judge(s) - Concur
Samuel Alito, John Roberts
Judge(s) - Dissent
Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
Kentucky Supreme Court
Decision Year


Defendant, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for more than 40 years, claimed that his counsel failed to advise him of the immigration consequences of his plead of guilty to narcotics charges. According to Padilla, his counsel informed him that he “did not have to worry about immigration status since he had been in the country so long.” In fact, his guilty plea made deportation “virtually mandatory.” Padilla argued that he would have proceeded to trial had he not recieved this incorrect information from counsel. The Supreme Court noted that before deciding to plead guilty, a defendant is entitled to effective assistance of counsel. The Court went on to hold that counsel must inform their client whether their plea carries a risk of deportation.

Key Quote

“It is our responsibility under the Constitution to ensure that no criminal defendant—whether a citizen or not—is left to the ‘mercies of incompetent counsel.’ To satisfy this responsibility, we now hold that counsel must inform her client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation. Our longstanding Sixth Amendment precedents, the seriousness of deportation as a consequence of a criminal plea, and the concomitant impact of deportation on families living lawfully in this country demand no less.” p.374