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A Couple of Joints (Probably) Won't Get You Deported

Adrian Moncrieffe, a Jamaican citizen, came to the U.S. legally in 1984, when he was three. During a 2007 traffic stop, police found 1.3 grams of marijuana in his car. That’s about two or three joints. Moncrieffe pleaded guilty in Georgia to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Under a state statute providing more lenient treatment to first-time offenders, the trial court withheld entering a judgment of conviction or imposing any term of imprisonment, and instead required that Moncrieffe complete five years of probation, after which his charge will be expunged altogether.

The federal government, however, was not so generous, and tried to have Moncrieffe deported.

Should Courts Apply Padilla Retroactively?

Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Padilla v. Kentucky that immigrants have a right to effective counsel and must be told about possible deportation stemming from a guilty plea. Next week, the Court will take up the issue once again, deciding whether Padilla applies retroactively.

The case, Chaidez v. U.S., involves Roselva Chaidez, a Mexican immigrant who became a lawful permanent resident in 1977. In June 2003, Chaidez was indicted on three counts of mail fraud in connection with a staged accident insurance scheme in which the victims' loss exceeded $10,000. On the advice of counsel, Chaidez pleaded guilty to two counts in December 2003, and was sentenced to four years' probation.

Court Decides Gutierrez, Taniguchi

As June approaches, and the case year comes to a close, the Supreme Court opinions will start rolling in. It’s only 36 days until the last day of the term, and the Court has yet to release opinions in 22 of the 69 cases argued this year.

Monday, the Nine issued three Supreme Court opinions. We already covered the Court’s decision in Astrue v. Capato in this blog; now we’re moving on to the other two cases decided this week, Holder v. Gutierrez and Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd.

To Err is Human, to Correct is ... Highly Unusual

As a legal community, we assume that a litigant's statements to the Supreme Court are true. The limited number of cases that reach the Court each year are subject to intense media scrutiny, so surely any falsities would be quickly revealed and horribly embarrassing.

Whether or not it was an outright lie, a rare piece of faulty information made its way to the Nine in the 2009 case, Nken v. Holder, and the Court based its opinion, in part, on that faulty information. Now, some immigrant groups are asking the Court to amend its opinion to correct the mistake.

There's No Ethnic Profiling in Arizona S.B. 1070?

In A League of Their Own, Coach Jimmy Dugan, (played by Tom Hanks), chastises one of the Rockford Peaches after a botched play, saying, "Are you crying? There's no crying. There's no crying in baseball."

As Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. stepped up to the plate in Wednesday's oral arguments about Arizona S.B. 1070, Coach Chief Justice John Roberts offered a similar warning from the bench.

Paul Clement, Donald Verrilli: Rematch This Week with S.B. 1070

In a normal year, the Supreme Court's review of the Arizona immigration law -- S.B. 1070 -- might have been the case to watch.

This year, however, has been anything but normal.

In March, the Supreme Court heard six hours of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The two attorneys responsible for most of the arguments in the healthcare debate were Paul Clement and Donald Verrilli. The pair will meet again on First Street this Wednesday in the second-biggest case of the year: the Arizona immigration law appeal.

February's First Four: SCOTUS Decides Kawashima, More

After several weeks of recess, the Supreme Court was bustling this morning. The Court issued four opinions and granted certiorari in a highly-hyped case today.

There were two grants today for the October 2012 term: Fisher v. University of Texas, the college affirmative action case, and Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, which will resolve the question of what qualifies as a "vessel" to trigger maritime jurisdiction. We'll discuss the granted cases later; today, we're talking about the decisions.

SCOTUS Robberies: Breyer and Aliens, Real and Metaphorical

Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed at his home on the West Indies island of Nevis around 9:00 p.m. last Thursday night, reports the Associated Press. The robber, armed with a machete, took approximately $1,000 in cash from Breyer, his wife, Joanna, and their guests. No one was injured.

Breyer is not the first Supreme crime victim. In the last 20 years, Justice David Souter was attacked while jogging in Washington, D.C., and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was the victim of a purse-snatching, according to the AP.

Arizona has been a political hotbed in the illegal immigration debates. With 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be in the United States, Arizona, which shares a border with Mexico, has been Ground Zero for immigration reform. On Thursday, May 26, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the illegal immigration issue and upheld a controversial Arizona illegal immigration law.

Let's be clear for a minute here-- the law that was upheld was not SB 1070, the same law that requires the police to ask "suspected illegal immigrants" for identification. That law has had it's most controversial provisions put on hold, at the order of the 9th Circuit. The law upheld by SCOTUS is a slightly different law, albeit one that deals with the illegal immigration issue and has also been criticized by President Barack Obama.

In Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, No. 09-60, the Court reversed the Fifth Circuit's denial of petitioner's petition for review of the BIA's order, holding that second or subsequent simple possession offenses are not aggravated felonies under 8 U.S.C. section 1101(a)(43) when, as in this case, the state conviction was not based on the fact of a prior conviction.

As the Court wrote:  "Petitioner Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, a lawful permanent resident who has lived in the United States since he was five years old, faced deportation under federal law after he committed two misdemeanor drug possession offenses in Texas. For the first, possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, he received 20 days in jail. For the second, possession without a prescription of one tablet of a common antianxiety medication, he received 10 days in jail. After this second offense, the Federal Government initiated removal proceedings against him. He conceded that he was removable, but claimed he was eligible for discretionary relief from removal under 8 U. S. C. §1229b(a)."

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