Legal Malpractice Allegedly To Blame For Conviction Of Turkish Immigrant

    Legal Malpractice Expert Witness

    This case involves a Turkish national with a green card who plead guilty to a theft crime. When she returned from traveling, she was given deferred inspection upon arriving at the airport. The plaintiff immediately hired an attorney to defend her against deportation, but the attorney failed to attend to the case by not appearing in court on the assigned date and not communicating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the plaintiff’s behalf. An arrest warrant for the plaintiff was subsequently served at her residence in front of her children and she spent two years in jail. An immigration attorney familiar with deportation procedure and deferred action was sought to help determine if there was a basis for a legal malpractice case against the plaintiff’s prior attorney.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Have you successfully defended clients in analogous situations?
    • 2. Could you describe the importance of deferred action in such cases?

    Expert Witness Response E-068082

    I have been a professor for 22 years at a top law school and coauthored a legal research casebook. I have testified in three or four cases formally and many more informally. Deferred action is important as a means of discretion to keep a family together or for humanitarian basis but I wonder why the plaintiff traveled. She should have known she was at grave risk. She was lucky not to be detained at the time of reentry. I would need to know more about the departure, length of absence, and reason for going. I would also need more information on the plaintiff’s family and the basis of hardship if removed. It would be important to see any retainer agreement between the original attorney and the plaintiff to be sure they, in fact, had an agreement. Theft crimes are difficult to defend in immigration cases. But the circumstances of the conviction are also relevant. Was the plaintiff thoroughly advised at the time of the plea? The plaintiff might have a claim against criminal defense counsel too. She should have been advised never to travel.

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