On July 26 of this year, the Supreme Court of New Jersey signed an Order effectively staying all Post-Conviction Relief Applications regarding claims of ineffective assistance of counsel due to failure to properly advise of immigration consequences. All such petitions are currently on hold now pending the outcome of a case called State v. Gaitan. Oral arguments on the case had been scheduled for this month. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court has just advised that the hearing will be postponed to November of 2011 so that the Gaitan may be consolidated with another case involving similar issues, State v. Rohan Goulbourne. This delay, unfortunately, may continue to work against many people in removal proceedings whose immigration cases turn on whether their criminal convictions are valid. Such individuals are advised to remember that despite the blanket moratorium, counsel can petition the trial or appellate court to lift the stay in individual cases where a defendant may face immediate removal or where “irreparable harm” may occur as a result.
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