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Judge defies Va. Supreme Court on immigration case

A Loudoun County general district judge has refused to abide by the high court’s ruling against reopening cases of immigrants who face deportation from criminal convictions.

The judge determined to reopen an old case to reconsider the guilty plea of an immigrant who now faces deportation, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that would leave the defendant without any remedy.

Judge Dean S. Worcester last week wrote a 13-page order granting a “writ of error coram vobis” in the case of an immigrant defendant who faces deportation as a result of a 2005 misdemeanor guilty plea. Worcester’s ruling bucks the precedent of the Supreme Court of Virginia which, in a Jan. 13 opinion, rejected the use of coram vobis to revisit cases where defendants face unforeseen immigration consequences of their criminal court cases.

“If this Court were to abide by the ruling in Morris and Chan, a constitutional violation will stand uncorrected, as the remedy of habeas corpus is not available to the Defendant in this case,” Worcester wrote.

Worcester’s order is posted online by The Washington Post, which reports fellow Loudoun County General District Judge Julia Cannon declined to reopen a case under identical circumstances.

By Peter Vieth

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