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CA2 Slams Feds in Coram Nobis Writ: Doe v. US

February 16, 2019 (1 min read)

Doe v. US

"The petition argues that Doe’s defense counsel was ineffective in affirmatively assuring him that there should be no immigration consequences for pleading guilty when, in fact, the crime to which he pleaded was an aggravated felony resulting in mandatory removal. The Government joined in Doe’s petition after originally opposing it; the district court nevertheless denied the petition. On appeal, Doe argues that the district court applied incorrect legal standards in evaluating the petition and that the court abused its discretion in denying relief. The Government now argues that the district court’s decision was not an abuse of discretion. We agree with Doe that the court below erred and that Doe is entitled to relief.

... Petitioner-Appellant John Doe filed a writ of coram nobis in 2014 to vacate a prior conviction. Both the Government and Doe’s original attorney admitted that Doe was misled as to the serious immigration consequences of the crime to which he pleaded guilty. The Government, after initially opposing the coram nobis petition, joined in asking the district court to grant it. The district court nevertheless denied the petition. Troublingly, the Government has now switched positions again, arguing that the district court did not abuse its discretion. On review, we grant the petition.

... As we reflect on the Government’s troubling changing positions in this matter — after having once rightly concluded that Doe is entitled to relief — we are reminded of then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s cautioning words: “It is, after all, not the Department of Prosecution but the Department of Justice . . . . [T]he interest of the Government . . . is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” For the foregoing reasons, the judgment below is REVERSED, and the case is REMANDED to the district court with instructions to grant the writ, vacate Doe’s plea and conviction, and transfer Doe’s criminal case... ."