Showing posts from March, 2010

Supreme Court Rules that a Client Must be Informed of the Possibility of Deportation Before Pleading Guilty

The Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Padilla v. Kentucky (March 31, 2010) that an attorney with a client who is an alien charged with a crime has a constitutional obligation to inform the client that a guilty plea carries a risk that the client will be deported. The Court, however, did not decide whether the individual in this case had been prejudiced by the lawyer's failure to give that advice. The opinion was written by Justice Stevens, with Justice Alito writing a concurring opinion, joined by the Chief Justice, and Justice Scalia dissenting, joined by Justice Thomas. Petitioner Padilla, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years, faces deportation after pleading guilty to drug distribution charges in Kentucky. In postconviction proceedings, he claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence before he entered the plea, but also told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived in this country so long. He allege

A Plea Deal in China for Three Rio Tinto Employees?

The New York Times reports that three employees of Rio Tinto (the British-Australian mining giant) agreed to plead guilty in China Monday to taking bribes while working for the company. This case has received much attention as the arrests of the employees came just after Rio Tinto rejected a $19.5 billion investment deal from Chinalco , one of the biggest state-owned Chinese mining groups. The timing lead many to claim the arrests were orchestrated to punish the company. Three employees of Rio Tinto , the British-Australian mining giant, agreed to plead guilty Monday to taking bribes while working for the company in China, making stunning confessions on the opening day of their three-day trial here. The employees, including Stern Hu , a senior executive and Australian citizen, admitted to having received several million dollars in bribes, according to their lawyers. A fourth employee is also expected to plead guilty. The proceedings were largely closed to the public, but the Austr

The Right to Counsel And Plea Bargaining

The New York Times had an excellent article over the weekend regarding the right to counsel in a case where the defendant was encouraged to plead guilty to a felony that turned out not to be a felony at all. Below are some portions of the article, but the entire piece (which is well worth reading) can be found here . ... Everybody around Fort Edward knew Pat Barber, a fixture at the courthouse and a stepfather of two whose family owned a local tavern. He had been here all his life except for college in western New York and law school at Syracuse. So there was not much in the way of vetting when he put in a cost-conscious bid to become Washington County’s chief public defender, a part-time position he added to his private practice of trial work, debt collections, wills and divorces. It was quickly settled. Beginning in 2006, he would get $50,000 a year and some rent for the office he had shared with a law partner who had recently died. “We have to have a good reason not to take the low

Chicago Man to Plead Guilty in Mumbai Terror Attacks

According to Fox News , David Coleman Headley of Chicago is scheduled to plead guilty tomorrow in U.S. District Court with regard to his having scouted targets in Mumbai prior to the 2008 terrorist attacks that killed 166 and his having plotted to attack a Danish newspaper. Headley pleaded not guilty in January to 12 counts, including six that charge a conspiracy to murder and maim people in India and provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The maximum sentence is the death penalty. Headley's attorney, John Theis, said he and his client "have been in discussions with the government" and Thursday's action would reflect the results. He declined to comment further. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, also declined to comment. Headley, 49, is accused of going to Mumbai to lay groundwork for the November 2008 rampage that the government blames on the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group is antagonistic

Defendant in Letterman Extortion Case Pleads Guilty

The New York Times is reporting that Robert Haldermann, a CBS producer who was accused of attempting to extort $2 million from talk show host David Letterman, pleaded guilty today in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to second-degree attempted grand larceny. The plea agreement requires Haldermann to serve six months in jail, serve four and a half years on probation, and perform 1,000 hours of community service. Mr. Halderman, an Emmy award-winning television producer, was accused of trying to extort $2 million from Mr. Letterman by threatening that he would make information about Mr. Letterman’s affairs public. Mr. Halderman’s lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel, had argued that his client intended only to write a book or a screenplay about Mr. Letterman’s affairs, but that before going forward with the project, Mr. Halderman simply was offering to sell Mr. Letterman the rights to the story for $2 million. Mr. Halderman is scheduled to be sentenced and go to jail on May 4. With good behavior, he

Imam Pleads Guilty in Zazi Terror Plot

Ahmad Afzali, an Imam linked to Najibullah Zazi, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. According to the terms of the plea agreement, Afzali avoided a lengthy prison sentence, but he will have to leave the country. The Miami Herald has a full report: A tearful Ahmad Afzali told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn that he had wanted to help authorities in the investigation of the threat, but lied under grilling by the FBI about his phone conversations with admitted al-Qaida associate Najibullah Zazi. "In doing so, I failed to live up to my obligation to this country, my community, my family and my religion," he said. "I am truly sorry." Under the plea deal, Afzali faces up to six months behind bars at sentencing on April 8. It also requires the Afghanistan-born defendant to leave the country within 90 days after completing the sentence or face deportation. Afterward, he told reporters, "I just signed my death sentence." Afzali, 39, was arrested in Septe

Cleric Plans to Plead Guilty in Zazi Matter

According to CNN , Ahmad Wais Afzali , a Muslim cleric and funeral director for the New York borough of Queens, will plead guilty today to making false statements to federal authorities regarding the investigation into Najibullah Zazi's plot to detonate bombs in the New York City subway system. For information regarding the Zazi plea agreement, see here , here , and here . Ahmad Wais Afzali , Muslim cleric and funeral director from the New York borough of Queens, was among the first people charged in the alleged plot. He is expected to plead guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday afternoon, the source said. Afzali's defense attorney did not immediately respond to a call from CNN. Robert Nardoza , a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, declined to comment. Afzali is charged in a four-count indictment. He's accused of lying about whether he tipped off Najibullah Zazi that the FBI had been asking questions. Zazi subsequently pleaded guilty

News Outlets Seek Terror Plea Agreement

According to the New York Times , the AP and Newsday have asked a judge to make public a sealed plea agreement between the DOJ and Najibullah Zazi, the man who pleaded guilty last week to plotting to blow up New York City subways following the September 11 anniversary. A federal judge sealed prosecutors' agreement with Najibullah Zazi, a 25-year-old former Colorado airport shuttle driver who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges this week. Zazi admitted hatching a plot to make homemade bombs and use them to launch a rush-hour attack. Both Zazi's attorneys and prosecutors asked for the agreement to be sealed, said Robert Nardoza, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn. That request was also sealed. Nardoza declined further comment Wednesday. Zazi's attorney, William Stampur, did not immediately return a message left Wednesday by The Associated Press. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie on Tuesday, Newsday reporter John Riley said a report tha

Defense Company BAE Systems Pleads Guilty

The New York Times reports that defense company BAE Systems PLC pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges this week and was fined $400 million. The fine represents one of the largest in the DOJ's efforts to combat overseas corruption. The defense contractor knowingly failed to ensure compliance with legal prohibitions on foreign bribery. The company's conduct impeded U.S. efforts to be certain international trade is free of corruption, said acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler. The gain to BAES was more than $200 million from false statements and failures to disclose information to the U.S. government, according to court papers in the case. From 2000 to 2002, the company told the Defense and Justice departments that it would carry out compliance measures in accordance with anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and with similar foreign laws. According to papers filed in the case, BAES took steps to conceal from the U.S. government undisclosed payments