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THIRD CIRCUIT TAKES SWIPE AT OTHER CIRCUITS PHILADELPHIA — Rejecting the views of six other federal appeals courts, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that a new immigration law that calls for automatic deportation of certain convicted felons cannot be applied retroactively if the alien was relying on the old version of the law when he rejected a misdemeanor plea agreement and opted to stand trial. In Ponnapula v. Ashcroft, the Third Circuit concluded that its sister courts had all taken too narrow a view of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in INS v. St. Cyr, which held that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act should not be applied retroactively to aliens who entered guilty pleas before the law went into effect. Since St. Cyr, the federal appellate courts have consistently limited its retroactivity holding to the plea bargain context — rejecting any claim by an alien who was convicted at trial. Now the Third Circuit has broken ranks with its sister courts, holding that some aliens who rejected plea agreements may still be entitled to the benefit of the old law. The Third Circuit said the other appellate courts — the First, Second, Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits — erred by insisting that an alien show “actual reliance” to reap the benefit of the presumption against retroactivity. — The Legal Intelligencer

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