Commonwealth v. MercadoAnnotate this Case
In Commonwealth v. Sylvain, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed its decision in Commonwealth v. Clarke that defense counsel’s duty to provide noncitizen defendants with accurate advice regarding the deportation consequences of pleading guilty was to be applied retroactively on collateral review. The Court set the date of retroactivity at the effective date of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a class A substance. Defendant’s guilty plea was entered after the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) but before the effective date of the IIRIRA. Defendant filed a motion for a new trial alleging that his attorney provided ineffective assistance for failing to adequately advise him as to the likely deportation consequences of his guilty plea. The motion judge denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the denial, holding (1) the retroactivity affirmed in the Sylvain case should extend back to the effective date of AEDPA for certain convictions; and (2) because the motion judge in this case did not explain on what ground he based his denial of Defendant’s motion for a new trial, the matter is remanded for further proceedings.