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6 to 2 victory before the U.S. Supreme Court

Jae Lee v. United States, No. 16-327. At issue was whether Jae Lee established the prejudice prong for ineffective assistance of counsel after a guilty plea. Mr. Lee is a citizen of South Korea but resided in the U.S.A. since early childhood, and had become a successful business man in Memphis with no ties to S. Korea. Mr. Lee entered a guilty plea to possession of ecstasy for resale in federal district court. Trial counsel informed Lee the government would not seek deportation. Plea was prior to release of the Padilla decision. Trial counsel provided affirmative misadvise on deportation. Lee proceeded with a § 2255 petition to vacate the conviction and set aside the guilty plea. Federal district court and Sixth Circuit found deficient performance by counsel. Same courts denied relief holding no prejudice because Lee would have been found guilty upon a jury trial and subject to deportation. Chief Justice Roberts writing for the Supreme Court held: we conclude that Lee has adequately demonstrated a reasonable prob­ability that but for his counsel’s errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial. The prejudicial standard for relief was satisfied. Conviction vacated and remanded to district court for proceedings consistent with the Opinion.

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