In 2010, in Padilla v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held that
criminal defense attorneys must advise non-citizen clients about the immigration
consequences of criminal pleas. In Commonwealth v. Clarke,
Massachusetts SJC concluded under federal law that Padilla was not a new rule
and therefore should be applied retroactively to April 1, 1997.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently held in Chaidez v. United States
that federal courts may not apply Padilla retroactively to convictions
that became final before the date Padilla was issued, on March 31,
2010. This leaves a significant number of defendants suddenly unsure as to
whether they have viable post-conviction motions.
On March 7, 2013, the SJC accepted a case for direct appellate review on the
issue of Padilla retroactivity in Massachusetts: Commonwealth
v. Sylvain. Wendy Wayne, Director of the Immigration Impact Unit at
the Committee for Public Counsel Services is co-counsel on Sylvain and
will discuss the arguments presented in the case and the future of
post-conviction motions in Massachusetts after Chaidez.