Is It Beneficial To Act As A Defense Witness If You Are Deportable?
Author: US deportation lawyer Alena Shautsova
It looks like the question should be answered in negative. The US Department of Justice has demonstrated that a defense witness can “pay” for his willingness to provide exculpatory evidence. The situation involves immigrants without a status who voluntarily participate in a criminal trial by offering testimony in support of defendants. Often, the witnesses for defense find themselves in deportation proceedings, while witnesses for the government enjoy protection in the form of special visas.
At least one Federal Judge found this to be a wrong policy. In a recent case in 9th Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski issued the following decision:
May the government deport an illegal alien who can provide exculpatory evidence for a criminal defendant before counsel for that defendant has even been appointed? We believe the answer is self-evident, as the government recognized in an earlier case where it moved to vacate a conviction after it deported witnesses whose testimony would have exculpated defendant.
The 9th reversed the conviction, and remanded the case back to the lower Court to decide whether to dismiss charges with prejudice as a consequence of the Government's (mis)conduct.
You can read the Court’s opinion
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