Supreme Court Clarifies Immigration Consequences Of Guilty Pleas

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court Monday upheld the conviction of a man who said he wasn’t aware that his guilty plea would result in his deportation or adversely affect his future eligibility to return legally to the United States.

In 2011, Juan Alberto Blanco Garcia, an alien illegally residing in the United States, pled guilty to the felony of neglect of a child under six years of age. With the aid of an interpreter in court, Blanco Garcia said he understood the charges, the sentence possibilities and that his guilty plea was made freely and voluntarily.  The trial court did not advise the defendant of the immigration consequences of the plea or inquire whether his attorney had done so.  

Before he entered the plea, however, Mr. Blanco Garcia’s attorney told him that he would be deported based on his status as an illegal alien and the guilty plea. The attorney also told Mr. Blanco Garcia that the guilty plea could adversely affect his future eligibility to return legally to the United States, but she advised him to consult an immigration lawyer for more specific information about the issue.

After his conviction, Mr. Blanco Garcia filed a petition alleging that his attorney was ineffective and his plea involuntary because he was not informed of the future immigration consequences of the guilty plea. 

The Supreme Court determined that the attorney fulfilled her obligation of effectively representing Mr. Blanco Garcia by advising him that he would be deported upon pleading guilty and that the guilty plea could have future adverse immigration consequences.  The Court explained that this general warning was sufficient because federal law did not clearly and succinctly describe the effect Mr. Blanco Garcia’s guilty plea would have on his future eligibility to return legally to this country. 

As to Mr. Blanco Garcia’s claim that his plea was unknowing and involuntary, the Court declined to decide whether the federal or state constitution requires courts to advise a person pleading guilty of the immigration consequences of the guilty plea.  The Court explained that, even assuming the trial court’s failure to advise Mr. Blanco Garcia of the immigration consequences of his plea amounted to constitutional error, the error was harmless because Mr. Blanco Garcia’s attorney had already informed him of the immigration consequences of his plea. 

To read the Opinion in Juan Alberto Blanco Garcia v. State of Tennessee, authored by Justice Cornelia Clark, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.


Unemployment Rate Decreases In 86 Of 95 Tennessee Counties

County unemployment rates for March show the rate decreased in 86 Tennessee counties, increased in four, and remained the same in five. Specific county information for March is available on the Internet; enter http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/labor_figures/March_Laborestimates.pdf . Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.5 percent in March, down ... (click for more)

Natalie Roy Joins Full Media's Chattanooga Office

Internet marketing and website development company, Full Media, recently hired Natalie Roy as an Internet marketing analyst in the company’s Chattanooga office. Ms. Roy joins Full Media with an extensive background in public relations and marketing. A Chattanooga native, she is dedicated to the community and growing businesses within it. “I care deeply about Chattanooga, so ... (click for more)

Berke Names Fred Fletcher, Of Austin, Tex., New Chattanooga Police Chief

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that Fred Fletcher of Austin, Tex., is his pick for Chattanooga Chief of Police. With 20 years of experience in law enforcement, Mr. Fletcher has served in an executive, command, or supervisory role for 12 years.  As commander in Region III of the Austin Police Department, Mr. Fletcher spearheaded community initiatives including a drug market ... (click for more)

Child, 23 Months, Found Dead In Crib With Fentanyl Patch On Back; Death Ruled Homicide

A 23-month-old Chattanooga boy has been found dead in his crib with a Fentanyl patch on his back. The death of Demarcus Bryant at 7655 Borris Dr. last month was ruled a homicide. An autopsy report says he died from "Fentanyl patch placed by someone else." Chattanooga Police are investigating. No one has yet been charged. The child was found face down in his crib. ... (click for more)

A Slap In The Face To Local Police Applicants

Little Andy has once again shown what he thinks about the Chattanooga Police Department by ignoring all the applicants from within the department. There were several great candidates within the police department that had as much experience as the chosen one from 1,000 miles away. This is a slap in the face for any officer who is at the Chattanooga Police Department who has aspirations ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Northwestern Players Vote

The National Labor Relations Board, 0-1 this week after the United Auto Workers cancelled a hearing one hour before it was to begin in Chattanooga, has another chance for a last-minute finish today. In what will be under a more harsh light, the Northwestern University football team is expected to vote on whether to become a union Friday morning. Yesterday afternoon there remained ... (click for more)