Did your lawyer tell you about clemency and parole?

The Georgia Supreme Court extends Padilla

In Alexander v. State, decided on May 11, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed that a failure to advise on parole issues from a guilty plea was ineffective assistance under Strickland v. Washington.

Military lawyers know there are two specific areas they must ensure adequate advice about to clients:  the possible impact of sex offender registration and possible adverse citizenship and immigration decisions.  Now–at least in Georgia–you can add one more: impacts on clemency and parole.

In Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. ___ (2010),  the Supreme Court held that because counsel must inform a client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation, Padilla has sufficiently alleged that his counsel was constitutionally deficient. Whether he is entitled to relief depends on whether he has been prejudiced.

Most military lawyers like myself make the effort to describe the clemency and parole impact of guilty pleas versus being found guilty after trial.  One of my mantra’s is that, “acceptance of responsibility for the confining offense,” gets you a greater chance at parole.

In Denedo v. United States, 556 U.S. 904 (2009), just a year before Padilla, the court determined that a failure to properly advise on immigration status was deficient assistance.  Denedo is a military case.

In United States v. Miller, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, determined there was no ineffective assistance in failing to advise a client about sex offender registration requirements during a guilty plea.  But strongly suggested, which we all do, that such advice ought to be given in all future cases.

So, I ask, could a requirement to properly advise on parole come next?  Alexander has an excellent survey of defense counsel obligations.