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Legal Projects

Public Defender Project

The Public Defender Project provides technical assistance, training, and education to Minnesota’s public defenders on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. In 2015, ILCM provided technical assistance and advice in 799 cases represented by public defenders, statewide.

The Public Defender Project was established based on the case of Jose Padilla. Jose Padilla had been a lawful permanent resident of the United States for more than 40 years when he pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking charge. The severity of the charge was such that, as non-citizen, deportation was a virtually necessary consequence of the guilty plea. Mr. Padilla’s counsel had provided affirmative misadvice regarding this consequence, incorrectly advising that Mr. Padilla, “did not have to worry about immigration status since he had been in the country so long.” Mr. Padilla maintained that, had he been advised as to the immigration consequences of a guilty plea, he would have taken the case to trial.

Although the Supreme Court of Kentucky denied Mr. Padilla the opportunity for a post-conviction evidentiary hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court took the case. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Mr. Padilla’s legal counsel had an obligation to advise him as to the immigration consequences of his case. ILCM’s Public Defender Project seeks to provide immigration consequences technical assistance to Minnesota’s public defenders, statewide.