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Lawyer Incompetence No Bar to Deportation

Ineffective assistance of counsel in an immigration proceeding is no longer a valid defense to deportation, reports The New York Times. An opinion released Wednesday by Attorney General Michael Mukasey holds that “neither the Constitution nor any statutory or regulatory provision entitles an alien to a do-over if his initial removal proceeding is prejudiced by the mistakes of a privately retained lawyer.”

Prior to Mukasey's opinion, many federal courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals held that immigrants denied competent counsel could reopen their cases on constitutional grounds. However, more recent federal appellate cases rejected the proposition that immigrants are entitled to effective representation in a deportation proceeding.

Some who defend the ruling argue that it is based "firmly in the law." Others believe that it will cut down on frivolous motions to reopen a case based on ineffective assistance of counsel, which is often a delaying tactic at best. But others criticize Mukasey for his 11th hour ruling, which penalizes immigrants for the sins of their attorneys, many of whom "extract heavy fees in exchange for false promises and shoddy, ineffective representation.”

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 9, 2009 at 02:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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