On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. Civil No. 3:11-cv-03540) District Judge: Hon. Joel A. Pisano
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aldisert, Circuit Judge
Submitted under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) June 22, 2012
Before: AMBRO, VANASKIE and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges
In 2006 Mario Mendoza pleaded guilty to an aggravated felony and, as a result, now faces imminent removal from the United States. He appeals from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey's order denying his petition for a writ of error coram nobis, in which he sought to vacate his plea due to his counsel's failure to apprise him that his conviction would lead to deportation.
For the reasons that follow, we will affirm the judgment of the District Court.
Mendoza was born in Ecuador and lives in New Jersey. From 1996 to 2001, while working as a licensed realtor, he helped borrowers obtain federally insured mortgages. His behavior led the government to charge him with conspiring to fraudulently induce the Federal Housing Authority to insure mortgage loans, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 1001. Mendoza's counsel, Glen Cavanagh, explained to him he could avoid prison by pleading guilty. Cavanagh did not, however, apprise Mendoza that, as an aggravated felony, his crime would lead to mandatory deportation. See 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii).
Mendoza entered his plea on March 29, 2006. Prior to sentencing on September 11, 2006, Mendoza learned from his Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") that his conviction might result in removal. The District Court sentenced Mendoza to two years' probation and ordered him to pay $100,000 in restitution. As a condition of his probation, Mendoza was required to cooperate with immigration officials.
Sometime after Mendoza received his sentence, the government instituted removal proceedings and ordered him to leave the country. On January 14, 2010, after completing his sentence, Mendoza filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and Rule 32(d) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to vacate his sentence and withdraw his plea. In it, Mendoza contended that Cavanagh did not warn him of the immigration implications of pleading guilty to an aggravated felony and noted that it was an open question whether a lawyer renders constitutionally deficient performance by failing to highlight a plea's immigration consequences. On March 31, 2010, the Supreme Court answered that question in the affirmative. See Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010). Five months later, on September 9, 2010, Mendoza withdrew his motion to vacate his plea.
Nine months after that, on June 8, 2011, Mendoza repackaged these same arguments in a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. Mendoza contended that, had he been aware that a guilty plea would subject him to deportation, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have instead attempted to negotiate a better deal or risked trial. On September 21, 2011, after noting the issue of Mendoza's counsel's ineffectiveness, the District Court denied Mendoza's petition on the alternative grounds that he filed after an unreasonable delay and did not assert his innocence. Mendoza timely appealed.
The District Court had jurisdiction over the petition under 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), in aid of its jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3231. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review the District Court's legal conclusions de novo and its factual findings for ...