United States v. Cerna, No. 09-1170-cr (2d Cir. April 27, 2010) (Katzmann, Hall, CJJ, Rakoff, DJ)
Against the backdrop of the circuit’s ongoing concern over the “exceptionally poor quality of representation often provided by attorneys retained by aliens as they attempt to negotiate the complexities of our immigration law,” here, the circuit reversed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s collateral challenge to the legality of his deportation.
Jose Cerna came to the United States from El Salvador when he was ten. He became a lawful permanent resident but, as a teenager, had several brushes with the law – two drug sale convictions when he was sixteen, a gun possession charge two years later, and another drug sale when he was twenty-one. While serving this last sentence, deportation proceedings were commenced against him.
After a hearing, an immigration judge found Cerna deportable, but also found him to be eligible for …