Attorney Zulu Ali Files Appeal Challenging Sufficiency of California Criminal Courts Advisement of Immigration Consequences Given To Noncitizen Immigrants

Attorney Zulu Ali Filed an Appeal Challenging the Sufficiency of California Criminal Courts Advisement of Immigration Consequences Provided to Noncitizen Immigrants Prior to Pleading in Criminal Cases

May 26, 2015, 10:15 ET from Attorney Zulu Ali

LOS ANGELES, May 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- On May 13, 2015, Attorney Zulu Ali filed an appeal of a denial of a motion to vacate a plea of guilty in the matter of People vs. Valdovinos by the San Bernardino Superior Court challenging the adequacy of the state courts advisement of immigration consequences prior to the defendant's plea of no contest.

Juan Valdovinos, a lawful permanent resident who immigrated to the United States from Mexico almost 40 years ago, was charged and pled no contest to one count of possession of marijuana for sale in the San Bernardino County Superior Court on June 6, 2011.  After pleading no contest, Valdovinos was taken into immigration custody and placed into deportation proceedings as a result of the plea.  Valdovinos was ordered removed and is now appealing the deportation order.

On March 17, 2015, Attorney Ali, on behalf of Valdovinos, filed a motion to vacate the no contest plea in the San Bernardino County Superior Court because he was not fully advised of the immigration consequences by the court prior to the plea.  The motion was denied on April 27, 2015.  Ali argues that, although the court provided a general advisement, it did not provide a specific advisement as the effect the plea would have on his right to seek relief from removal, including cancellation or asylum.

While the California penal code provides that noncitizens are to be advised that they could be deported, excluded from admission, or denied naturalization as a consequence of a plea, the statute also states that a court must provide an appropriate advisement of the special consequences for a plea, which clearly reveals the legislative intent, and the general advisement provided to persons like his client is not adequate or fair Attorney Ali argues.

Attorney Ali argues that the statute was written in 1977 and the consequences now are different than those in 1977 because there have been many significant immigration reforms since that time; and the intent of the legislature was to provide noncitizens accused of crimes adequate advisement as to the specific consequences of their plea, which is much more than what is reflected in the general advisement courts give noncitizens. 

Attorney Ali hopes that appeal courts will recognize the legislative intent and expand the courts obligation to provide noncitizens with informed and proper advisement as to not only general consequences, but the specific consequences, including relief from removal, which would have a huge impact on the advisements provided and the rights the legislature intended to protect.

"I understand that courts in California are crowded with huge dockets and, in the interest of judicial economy, courts tend to hurry matters through the system, judicial economy should not outweigh the rights of noncitizens accused of crimes," Attorney Ali adds.

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