Monday, December 3, 2012

Young Man Says Local Attorney Saved His Life


A twenty-five-year-old young family man and manager of a local fast food restaurant was charged with a felony non-violent crime.  He did not have a lot of money to hire a private attorney and therefore was appointed a public defender.  He eventually had two public defenders on his case who negotiated what he thought was a good deal for him. 

This young man is a lawful permanent resident of the United States and he repeatedly asked if he would be deported to El Salvador, a place he had not been to since he was a young child.  One of his friends was recently deported to El Salvador and was promptly killed by the MS-13 gang there.

The public defenders said that he may be deported but they were not sure and that he would have to consult with an immigration attorney.  They suggested he take the plea deal because it meant that he would not get any prison time, even though it would be a felony conviction.  He took the deal and was returned to his family and his job.

Three months later, immigration officials arrested him and put him in lock-up for deportation to El Salvador.  This young man knew no one in El Salvador and faced the prospect of being killed or joining a vicious gang to survive.  Likely, he would never see his newborn child again.

While he was in lock-up, his family looked for an attorney to help him and found my friend attorney David Jacks.  David tried many procedures and filed documents with both federal immigration court and criminal court in Las Vegas.  His task was daunting and many criminal defense attorneys he turned to for guidance, including me, were skeptical that he could get results.  Over the next three months David optimistically worked every week on the case until he was able to get the Nevada criminal court in Las Vegas to reopen the case and overturn the conviction.  This post-conviction relief is a very difficult criminal procedure in Nevada and rarely is accomplished. 

To David’s credit, owing to hard and persistent work on the case, he succeeded in getting the conviction overturned and the crime reduced to a non-deportable offense -- a misdemeanor.  Once Las Vegas, or the State of Nevada, reduced the charge, the federal immigration court had no choice but to release the young man.  

After three months being locked up and facing almost certain deportation to a country where death or horror awaited, David Jacks’ work returned the young man to his waiting family.  Moreover, because the conviction was reversed, this young man can pursue US Citizenship, after which he will never face deportation again.

Later, the young man gave David a big hug and said, "You saved my life."