US v. Rodriguez-Vega, No. 13-56415 [August 14, 2015]
Rodriguez-Vega alleged that her counsel was ineffective because her attorney failed to advise her that her plea agreement rendered her removal a virtual certainty. When a plea makes removal virtually certain counsel must advise his client that removal is a virtual certainty. The court held that “Rodriguez-Vega’s counsel was required to advise her that her conviction rendered her removal a virtually certain, or words to that effect. Since counsel never informed her that she faced anything more than the mere potential for removal counsel performance was constitutionally ineffective. Prejudice was established by showing other case were defendants on similarly charges received a plea to a non-removable offense and that she settled on a charge in a purposeful attempt to avoid an adverse effect on her immigration status because she had previously rejected a plea bargain that stipulated to removal. As an alternative ground for showing prejudice, she demonstrated clearly that she placed a particular emphasis on the immigration consequences of a plea in deciding whether or not to accept it.