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Meza v. State, 2015 UT 70 (August 14, 2015)

Aug 14, 2015

A criminal defendant sought to withdraw his plea in abeyance under the Post-Conviction Relief Act based on his counsel’s alleged ineffective assistance in advising him that the abeyance plea had no immigration consequences. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed, holding that both a conviction and a sentence are prerequisites to relief under the PCRA and the defendant’s plea in abeyance was not a conviction. The Court also declined to exercise its authority to issue an extraordinary writ because the defendant had an adequate remedy for his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel: the defendant’s claim, which involved the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the serious consequence of deportation, qualifies as sufficiently unusual and exceptional circumstances allowing for relief under Rule 60(b)(6).