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US Supreme Court won't extend 2010 immigration ruling

The US Supreme Court building on June 27, 2012 in Washington, DC
The US Supreme Court building on June 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. Immigrants expelled after pleading guilty to criminal offenses prior to 2010 cannot withdraw their pleas citing poor counsel, the US Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

Immigrants expelled after pleading guilty to criminal offenses prior to 2010 cannot withdraw their pleas citing poor counsel, the US Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

The court declined to retroactively apply the historic 2010 ruling in Padilla v. Kentucky, which requires attorneys to inform clients who are not citizens that a guilty plea can mean deportation.

That ruling essentially extended the Sixth Amendment of the Bill of Rights -- which grants the accused the right to a defense -- to the country's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

The latest case concerns Roselva Chaidez, a Mexican who was a legal resident in the United States for more than 20 years but took part in an insurance fraud amounting to $26,000.

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years probation, but was unaware that the plea rendered her eligible for deportation.

When she applied for citizenship in 2009 she was told she would instead be deported over the conviction years earlier.

She hastened to file an appeal, invoking the Sixth Amendment and saying her lawyer had failed to inform her of the consequences of her guilty plea.

The appeal was still under consideration when the Supreme Court ruled on Padilla v. Kentucky.

"All we say here is that Padilla's holding that the failure to advise about a non-criminal consequence could violate the Sixth Amendment would not have been -- in fact was not -- apparent to all reasonable jurists prior to our decision," the court said Wednesday in a 7-2 decision.

"Those rulings do not apply to her case, and they do not show that all reasonable judges thought that lawyers had to advise their clients about deportation risks."

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