Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia

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The State of Georgia appealed the grant of habeas relief in regard to appellee Jude Ebele Aduka, a citizen of Nigeria. Appellee was arrested in 2007 after being found with numerous counterfeit goods. An indictment was handed down in 2009 and thereafter the State offered a plea deal which appellee rejected because of concerns he had about how such a deal would impact his immigration status. In 2012, however, appellee pleaded guilty to a single count of offer for sale of counterfeit goods. During the plea colloquy with the trial court, appellee stated he understood that entering a guilty plea “may have an impact” on his immigration status and that he understood that his guilty plea “could mean [he] could be deported.” The trial court sentenced appellee to five years of “confinement” to be served entirely on probation and ordered him to pay a fine. In 2015, appellee was arrested by federal immigration agents. Appellee petitioned for habeas relief concerning his 2012 plea and conviction. While the habeas petition was still pending, an immigration judge issued an order for appellee’s removal from the United States due to his counterfeit goods conviction. In his habeas petition, appellee alleged that plea counsel was constitutionally ineffective because he failed to advise appellee that pleading guilty to a violation of OCGA 10-1-454 would subject him to mandatory deportation for committing an “aggravated felony” under federal law. The habeas court determined plea counsel was deficient by failing to inform appellee that he would be deported if he pleaded guilty to violating OCGA 10-1-454 (c). The habeas court found plea counsel’s informing appellee that he “may” be deported was not reasonable upon a direct reading of the federal statute at issue. The Georgia Supreme Court found appellee's plea counsel did not act outside the wide range of reasonable conduct afforded attorneys who represent criminal defendants, including those defendants who are noncitizens, when he advised appellee that he “could be” deported, rather than informing appellee that he “would be” deported if he entered the plea in question. Accordingly, the Court reversed the habeas court's judgment. View "Georgia v. Aduka" on Justia Law

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Georgia appealed a habeas court’s order granting relief to appellee Thomas Addaquay on the ground that his plea counsel was constitutionally ineffective in incorrectly advising him of the immigration consequences of his plea of guilty. In 2012, Addaquay pled guilty to criminal damage to property in the second degree for conduct that occurred in 2002 and was sentenced as for a misdemeanor to 11 months and 29 days on probation. At that time, Addaquay was a “green card” holder and lawful permanent resident of the United States. Addaquay did not claim that the deportation consequences of his plea were unclear or uncertain, but instead claimed that he was clearly deportable based on his plea of guilty to criminal damage to property in the second degree and that plea counsel performed deficiently in telling him that he would not be deported. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded this claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was without merit: the decisive issue was whether Addaquay committed the crime within five years of his “date of admission” to this country. Addaquay failed to show that he was deportable under the removal statute, 8 USC 1227. View "Georgia v. Addaquay" on Justia Law