The Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants the right to effective assistance of counsel during all "critical stages" of a criminal proceeding. In the context of plea negotiations, this means that criminal defense attorneys must convey plea offers to their client in a timely fashion and give adequate advice about the consequences of accepting or rejecting the offer. The United States Supreme Court previously held, in a case called Padilla v. Kentucky, that this duty extends to advice about the immigration consequences of entering a plea. In an opinion rendered last week, Lee v. United States, the Supreme Court held that bad advice about immigration consequences can support post-conviction relief, even in situations where the defendant did not have any reasonable hope of winning at trial.
On June 1, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Mellouli v. Lynch, 2015 WL 2464047 (2015). Mellouli was arrested in Kansas for DUI. During a post arrest search, the police officers found four orange Adderall tablets hidden in his sock. Mellouli ended up pleading guilty to a single misdemeanor charge for possessing drug paraphernalia, with the sock being the paraphernalia. An immigration judge ordered Mellouli deported under a statute that authorized deportation for a violation "relating to" a substance listed in the controlled substance (defined under federal law).