The Office of the Alameda County Public Defender strives to provide its clients with cutting edge, holistic defense services. In January 2014, the Office made history by launching California’s first Public Defender Immigration Representation Project. The project was initiated and developed by Raha Jorjani, an immigration defense attorney and nationally recognized “crimmigration” expert. Since then, the Public Defender has provided immigration representation to a limited number of eligible noncitizen clients in their subsequent immigration matters. In doing so, the Public Defender seeks to address a critical need in the community in light of the absence of a statutory right to appointed counsel for indigent immigrants facing deportation. To learn more about the project, click here.
Ms. Jorjani was hired by the office in 2009 to advise Alameda County public defenders regarding the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. The Public Defender's decision to bring on an in-house immigration attorney came well ahead of the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision in Padilla v. Kentucky. On March 31, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court held that criminal defense counsels’ Sixth Amendment duty to provide defendants with effective representation included a duty to advise them about the immigration consequences of a plea. Defense counsel now has an affirmative constitutional duty to inquire about immigration status and advise non-citizen defendants accordingly.
California has the highest number of foreign born residents in the nation. The ratio of foreign born residents to native born residents is even higher when you look at Alameda County. As an organization committed to addressing the unique needs of the diverse communities that it serves, the Public Defender’ Office continues to be dedicated to providing the best possible representation for our clients, even where that representation requires an intimate knowledge of immigration consequences.
The Alameda County Public Defender's Immigration Representation Project was awarded the 2016 Public Defender Program of the Year award by the California Public Defenders Association.
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