Monday, August 09, 2010

Some recent Spreme Court decisions already having impact

"The United States Supreme Court term that just ended produced an unusually large number of cases that have had nearly instant impact in courtrooms and on practitioners across the country," Tony Mauro at wrote this morning, mentioning Citizens United v. FEC, Skilling v. U.S., Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds International Corp., and Morrison v. National Australia Bank… . McDonald v. Chicago and Bilski v. Kappos, both issued on the final day of the term June 28, are launching new litigation over firearm regulations and patent eligibility, respectively.

"But two decisions that got fewer headlines when they were announced are also producing a broad ripple effect in courtrooms," the article says, and both were written by now-retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: Padilla v. Kentucky and Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder. In Padilla, the Court ruled that a lawyer's failure to warn an immigrant client about the consequences of a plea agreement on possible deportation amounts to ineffective assistance of counsel. In Carachuri-Rosendo, the Court sided with immigrants in revising the way minor drug offenses are calculated for deciding whether alien offenders should be deported.

"The Padilla case in particular," Mauro writes, "is being cited in much broader contexts than the case itself. The obligation of lawyers to advise clients about collateral consequences of plea bargains well beyond immigration issues -- from pension benefits to housing -- is being tested in the aftermath of Padilla. Judges have already issued conflicting rulings on the retroactive effect of the decision." (See earlier article, Courts Differ On Retroactive Effect of High Court Counsel Ruling).

"'The Court left open what the rule would be for other consequences, like parole and sex-offender status, so a lot of cases are being filed,' said Stephen Kinnaird, a partner in Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker's Washington office who argued and won the Padilla case, was quoted as saying, and Washington solo practitioner Margaret Love, who has written extensively about collateral consequences, said it might be the most important 'right to counsel' case since Gideon v. Wainwright… It's a case where you pull a little string and things begin to unravel. It's a gift from Justice Stevens that will keep on giving."

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