In a decision that could affect scores of immigrants, the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that a U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering attorneys to tell their clients whether a plea carries a risk of deportation does not apply retroactively.

The 5-2 decision reversed a state Court of Appeals ruling that allowed Rene Reyes Campos to withdraw his guilty plea to simple robbery in Hennepin County District Court. Campos argued that he never would have pleaded guilty if he had known it risked his being deported.

Campos, who was 17 when he was charged in Hennepin County District Court in 2009, had been a lawful U.S. resident for about seven years. He agreed to plead guilty as an adult to the charge and get a stayed sentence of a year in the county workhouse.

In June 2010 Campos moved to withdraw the plea, arguing that otherwise he would lose and not regain permanent resident status and was likely to be deported. He argued that he could withdraw his plea based on ineffective assistance from his attorney, who never told him of the consequences. He cited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the 2010 Padilla case that ordered attorneys to tell their clients whether a plea carries a risk of deportation.

A Hennepin County judge ruled that the Padilla decision did not apply to past cases and denied Campos' request. The Appeals Court reversed the district court ruling, noting that since 2006 judges must ensure that defense attorneys have told defendants of the risks of deportation or denial of citizenship before they can accept a guilty plea.

The state Supreme Court disagreed. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote that although there is no question the Padilla case would apply today, Minnesota law at the time did not require attorneys to notify clients of deportation risks.

Gildea concluded that because Padilla is considered a new rule of constitutional criminal procedure that is not dictated by earlier cases, it cannot be considered retroactive.

In his dissent, Justice Alan Page argued that the Padilla decision does not invoke a new rule of criminal procedure because it does not break new ground, and relies on earlier cases that require attorneys to tell clients of the consequences of entering a guilty plea.

Page also pointed out that under the law, aggravated felonies that warrant a sentence of at lease a year are subject to automatic deportation.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921