United States v. Fry (2003) – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

United States v. Fry, 322 F.3d 1198 (9th Cir. 2003), was a case in which a convicted Canadian citizen, being processed for deportation, claimed the he had been denied the effective assistance of counsel because his lawyer had "not informed him that he could be deported if convicted." 322 F.3d at 1200.

The standard for effective assistance is the performance prong of Strickland v. Washington's two-pronged test.

Fry's trial counsel did not perform deficiently by failing to inform Fry that he could be deported if convicted at trial. The performance was deficient only if it "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." ... All other circuits to address the question have concluded that "deportation is a collateral consequence of the criminal process and hence the failure to advise does not amount to ineffective assistance of counsel." (322 F.3d at 1200.)

The Ninth Circuit held squarely that the absence of warnings as to deportation did not constitute the ineffective assistance of counsel.

"We have also held that counsel's failure to advise a defendant of a collateral penalty is not objectively unreasonable and therefore does not amount to ineffective assistance. This line of authority in our circuit compels holding, consistent with our sister circuits, that counsel's failure to advise a defendant of collateral immigration consequences of the criminal process does not violate the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel." Id.