Commonwealth v. SylvainAnnotate this Case
Defendant, who is not a citizen of the United States, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of cocaine. Defendant was subsequently placed in a removal proceeding. Defendant filed a motion to vacate his guilty plea, claiming that he received ineffective assistance from his plea counsel when counsel provided erroneous advice that Defendant would not be subject to deportation. The motion was denied. The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that Defendant received ineffective assistance of plea counsel and remanded the matter for additional findings relating to the issue of prejudice. On remand, the judge allowed Defendant’s motion to vacate his guilty plea and ordered a new trial. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the judge did not abuse his discretion in allowing Defendant’s motion for a new trial; and (2) the affidavits of Defendant and his plea counsel provided a sufficient basis to conclude that, but for counsel’s errors, Defendant would not have pleaded guilty and would have decided instead on going to trial.