Realizing the Promise of Padilla Through a Law School/Public Defender Collaboration

23 Pages Posted: 30 May 2015

Date Written: May 28, 2015


The Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Padilla v. Kentucky thrust the issue of the immigration consequences of crime into the legal limelight. The Court held that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of effective assistance of counsel requires defense counsel to provide their noncitizen clients with specific advice regarding immigration consequences. Deportation, the Court found, is a uniquely severe penalty that is "intimately related to the criminal process," and that, for many noncitizens, is the most important potential consequence of the criminal process. Suddenly, defense attorneys found themselves deputized as the first line of defense against deportation for their noncitizen clients. By "plea bargain[ing] creatively," the Padilla Court explained, counsel may be able "to craft a conviction and sentence that reduce the likelihood of deportation." Widely hailed as a landmark decision - a "Gideon for immigrants" - Padilla's promise has proved elusive in practice, particularly in the realm of indigent defense. Implementing Padilla has proven a daunting challenge for defender offices across the country given the complexity of the law, the lack of lawyers with the appropriate expertise, and the already stretched financial and personnel resources of indigent defense offices.

Keywords: public defenders, immigration clinics, clinical legal education, holistic defense, Padilla v. Kentucky

Suggested Citation

Taeuber, Stacy, Realizing the Promise of Padilla Through a Law School/Public Defender Collaboration (May 28, 2015). Wisconsin Law Review, p. 339, 2015, Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1352, Available at SSRN:

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