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Non-Citizen Granted Hearing on Guilty Plea Consequences

23
Apr
2010

by in Criminal Appeals

State v. Thelfas Cooper, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-1561-08T4 (March 18, 2010) – “We conclude that State v. Garcia, 320 N.J. Super. 332 (App. Div. 1999) requires an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s petition.

Therefore, we vacate the order denying the petition and remand for a hearing at which defendant and his trial counsel may be called to testify regarding their communications about defendant’s citizenship status and risk of deportation and the effect of those communications upon defendant’s decision to plead guilty….

The trial court should not simply have assumed that defendant’s trial counsel was ‘under the impression that [defendant] was a citizen and did not face deportation[,]’ even though defendant’s certification alleged that he ‘informed [his trial counsel] when we first met that I was not a citizen.’ Instead, the court should have adduced testimony from both defendant and his trial counsel regarding their communications about defendant’s citizenship status and the effect of those conversations upon defendant’s decision to plead guilty.” (Mark Zavotsky, Designated Counsel)

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