Illegal Alien Has Drug Dealing Conviction Overturned Due To Technicality, Allowing For Legal Return To US
A federal judge this week threw out a man’s drug conviction because his defense lawyer failed to warn him that he would face deportation if he pleaded guilty to the crime.
U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon cited ineffective counsel when he tossed Victor Hugo Navarro-Gutierrez’s conviction for possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Simon found the conviction violated the Sixth Amendment.
If Navarro-Gutierrez would have known he faced deportation, he would have gone to trial, his current defense lawyer, Michelle Ryan, argued successfully.
Navarro-Gutierrez, now 34, was deported last year to Mexico as the motion to dismiss his conviction and sentence was pending, Ryan said. He’s appealed his deportation to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
He’s hoping Simon’s ruling will reverse his deportation order and allow him to return to the United States, where his father and sister have cancer, Ryan said Thursday.
Navarro-Gutierrez’s case, she argued, was a clear violation of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Padilla v. Kentucky that found criminal defense attorneys must advise their noncitizen clients about the deportation risks of a guilty plea. That case extended a criminal defendant’s right to effective counsel to immigration consequences.
Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Navarro-Gutierrez at his home in Salem on Oct. 18, 2016, after a yearlong wiretap investigation that focused on his brother’s drug dealing, according to court records.
Navarro-Gutierrez, a native of Mexico, moved to the United States when he was 14 and his father obtained a green card for him, according to court documents. His lawyer described Navarro-Gutierrez as a “lawful permanent resident’’ who has lived in the United States since 2000. He has an 11-year-old son who is a U.S. citizen and his fiancée is a U.S. citizen with two children. He has no prior convictions.
As Simon dismissed the drug conviction, Navarro-Gutierrez instead entered a guilty plea to a lesser offense called “misprision of a felony,’’ which is knowing about a felony but failing to disclose it to law enforcement. He participated in Tuesday’s new plea and sentencing hearing by phone from Mexico and again was sentenced to time served.
The new conviction is a felony but one that’s not a deportable offense, according to 9th Circuit case law.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Navarro-Gutierrez’s brother, Alfredo Navarro-Gutierrez Jr. , was the main alleged drug trafficker. Federal agents found one occasion during the investigation when Victor Navarro-Gutierrez delivered methamphetamine for his brother, according to prosecutor Kemp Strickland. In June, Alfredo Navarro-Gutierrez was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.
Here is the screen capture from the docket history, showing the orders to vacate the conviction, citing the conviction as “unconstitutional”:
And here is the federal indictment, which was originally sealed:
Another one of Pelosi’s angels in sanctuary state Oregon.