United States District Court, D. Vermont
J. Garvan Murtha United States District Judge
Sergio Guzman-Ferreiras (Guzman or “Petitioner”)
has filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis to vacate
his conviction. (Doc. 48.) The government opposes the
petition. (Doc. 49.) Guzman-Ferreiras did not file a reply.
The Court requested a memorandum of law addressing
Petitioner’s substantive claims, including the
applicability of the Supreme Court’s Padilla
and Chaidez decisions. (Doc. 50.) Petitioner
declined the opportunity and rests on the Declaration of Labe
Richman submitted in support of the coram nobis petition as
his memorandum of law. See Doc. 53.
April 10, 2003, in northern Vermont, Guzman picked up three
people he knew had entered the United States illegally,
having previously arranged to transport them to New York City
for a fee. (Doc. 48-3 at 6-7.) On May 1, Guzman and another
were charged in an indictment with transporting illegal
aliens within the United States. (Doc. 8.) In October, a plea
agreement signed by Guzman and his attorney, Elizabeth Mann,
was filed in which he agreed to plead guilty to the
indictment and to cooperate with the government. (Doc. 29.)
In November, Guzman pled guilty to transporting illegal
aliens within the United States, in violation of 8 U.S.C.
§ 1324(A)(1)(a)(ii). (Doc. 48-3.) In March 2004, he was
sentenced to time-served--consisting of three days’
imprisonment--and two years’ supervised release. (Doc.
32 (Judgment).) He did not appeal his conviction.
August 25, 2015, Guzman was served with a Notice to Appear in
removal proceedings initiated against him stemming from this
conviction. (Doc. 48-8.) Thereafter he filed the instant
petition for writ of error coram nobis to vacate his
conviction (Doc. 48) and, in June 2016, informed the Court he
was ordered deported. (Doc. 51.)
petition consists of his one-page declaration, a declaration
of Labe Richman, an attorney associated with his immigration
law firm, and other exhibits. See Doc. 48 & exs.
The government’s opposition asserts the petition is
foreclosed by his failure to provide “good
reason” for his delay in bringing it. (Doc. 49 at 5.)
The government argues it is further substantively foreclosed
because there was no error in the proceedings, and, even if
there was, the Supreme Court’s holding in Padilla
v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), requiring defense
counsel advise a defendant of immigration consequences
arising from a guilty plea, is not applicable because
Petitioner was advised of immigration consequences. The
government also asserts that, even if he was not advised of
the consequences, the holding is not retroactive for those
defendants, like Petitioner, whose convictions became final
prior to Padilla. (Doc. 49 at 7-8 (citing
Chaidez v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 1103 (2013).)
of coram nobis is an extraordinary remedy of “last
resort” for petitioners who are no longer in custody
for a criminal conviction and therefore cannot pursue direct
review or collateral relief through a writ of habeas corpus.
Fleming v. United States, 146 F.3d 88, 89-90 (2d
Cir. 1998). Relief under the writ is “strictly limited
to cases in which errors of the most fundamental character
have rendered the proceeding itself irregular and
invalid.” Foont v. United States, 93 F.3d 76,
78 (2d Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). A writ of coram nobis should be granted only if:
(1) there are circumstances compelling such action to achieve
justice; (2) sound reasons exist for failure to seek
appropriate earlier relief; and (3) the petitioner continues
to suffer legal consequences from his conviction that may be
remedied by granting the writ. Id. at 79 (citations
omitted). The prior proceedings are presumed to have been
conducted correctly; a petitioner must prove otherwise.
United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502, 511 (1954);
Nicks v. United States, 955 F.2d 161, 167 (2d Cir.
he timely brought his petition, see Doc. 49 at 4-6,
Guzman has not met the high burden justifying the
extraordinary remedy of a writ of coram nobis. The Court is
mindful Guzman is suffering a legal consequence of his
conviction, namely, deportation. That was a consequence,
however, of which he was made aware before, during, and after
his guilty plea. The plea agreement itself stated
“[t]he defendant is aware that, if he is an alien . . .
the guilty plea may result in deportation.” (Doc. 29
¶ 3.) During the plea colloquy, the Court asked if
Guzman was aware his “guilty plea may result in . . .
deportation, ” (Doc. 48-3 at 7-8), and the Court
reiterated “we have already gone over it, one of the
consequences is that you may be subject to deportation once
you’re found guilty of a felony, ” id.
at 11. The Court also confirmed with Attorney Mann that she
had “reviewed with [Guzman] the charge to which he is
pleading guilty as well as each and every paragraph of the
plea agreement.” Id. at 15. Lastly, at
Guzman’s sentencing, the Court stated conditions
“that [Guzman] not enter the United States-well this is
in the event that he’s deported, but he not enter the
United States during the period of supervised release
contrary to law” and “he shall abide by the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service’s
guidelines.” (Doc. 48-6 at 6.)
asserts there are other charges to which he could have
pleaded guilty that would not have had the immigration
consequences he now faces. (Doc. 48-1 ¶ 2.) He also
claims his attorney “made him believe that [he] had a
chance at staying in the United States and [he] was never
told that this was an aggravated felony that would lead to
deportation with no remedy.” Id. ¶ 3. In
March 2016, Attorney Mann stated her usual practice was to
“discuss the consequences of aggravated felonies with
defendants, ” including advising of the immigration
consequences of a plea such as “potential/probable
deportation proceedings, ” however she “cannot
say with certainty that the usual process was followed
here.” (Doc. 48-9.) At the time of the plea, however,
Attorney Mann stated she had discussed “each and
every” paragraph of the plea agreement with Guzman, and
that would include paragraph three which alerted Petitioner
to the prospect of deportation as a result of his plea. The
Court notes Petitioner has not claimed ineffective assistance
of counsel. Cf. Zhang v. United States, 506 F.3d
162, 169 (2d Cir. 2007).
Court is not persuaded these circumstances compel the
granting of a writ of coram nobis. Such a grant would not
achieve justice because there has been no showing the prior
proceeding was irregular or invalid.
reasons discussed above, the petition for writ of error coram