State v. Ramos
Under Connecticut General Statutes §54-lj(c), when a noncitizen defendant has not been properly advised that a guilty plea may have certain immigration and naturalization consequences, the court is mandated to vacate the judgment of conviction and permit withdrawal of the guilty plea if the defendant "not later than three years after the acceptance of the plea" files a motion and shows that the plea and conviction may have such a consequence. In 1999, Mauricio Ramos, a noncitizen of the U.S., entered an Alford plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit forgery. The court accepted the plea without advising Ramos of its potential immigration consequences. Following his term of imprisonment, Ramos was deported. He illegally re-entered the U.S. in 2006, married a U.S. citizen and fathered a child. In 2009, he traveled to Puerto Rico, was detained and charged with illegal entry as an aggravated felon. In 2010, Ramos filed a motion to vacate his plea contending, inter alia, that the plea canvass violated C.G.S. §54-lj. The trial court denied the motion concluding that even if it had discretion under C.G.S. §54-lj to grant the motion more than three years after the plea entered, as Ramos contended pointing to its legislative history, the court would not exercise that discretion here. Ramos appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment for form concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion filed outside the three year period prescribed in C.G.S. §54-lj. The case was remanded with direction to dismiss the motion. The defendant recognized that there was no constitutional or common-law basis for jurisdiction over his motion and relied on C.G.S. §54-lj. But, the only grant of jurisdiction expressly provided in the statute is afforded when the defendant files the motion within the three year period prescribed. No discretionary authority to act beyond that period is conferred expressly or by necessary implication. The failure to specify the effect of an untimely filed motion did not render C.G.S. §54-lj ambiguous. Absent ambiguity, C.G.S. §1-2z barred consideration of the legislative history on which the defendant relied. The Court declined to exercise its supervisory authority here. Justice Palmer concurred noting that this appeared to be an unusual case in which C.G.S. §1-2z precluded the Court from effectuating the legislature's intent.