Immigration Practice Group

The Immigration Practice Group attended a national training on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, which was organized by the Defending Immigrants Partnership. This training is an annual event that brings together practitioners from every state of the country to discuss specifically what public defenders are doing to within our organizations to protect the complex rights of immigrants in criminal cases. Since the landmark decision of Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), most jurisdictions have been trying to urgently meet these obligations. Since Padilla, the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD) formed its Immigration Practice Group.

A challenge to adequately addressing immigration consequences seems to be getting attorneys to recognize their obligations under Padilla. For many years in Wisconsin, criminal defendants have been warned at the plea colloquy that they may be deported as a result of their conviction. See Wis. Stat. Sec. 971.08(1)(c).This general admonition is clearly insufficient under Padilla.

The main objective of the Immigration Practice Group is to assist our attorneys in understanding the immigration consequences their clients face upon conviction of a crime. This analysis is often complex and is specifically tailored to each client through the completion of the Immigration Practice Group Questionnaire, which screens for potential immigration consequences.

The Immigration Practice Group Coordinator has made connections with immigration resources through the Defending Immigrations Partnership, which connects the SPD's practice group to many well respected national immigration organizations focusing on immigration consequences in criminal convictions. There are also organizations within Wisconsin that we have connections with as well. In addition, the UW Law School’s Immigration Justice Clinic has started a relationship with the SPD allowing the SPD to refer clients to the clinic for representation in immigration proceedings or to assist with complex Padilla advice.

The Immigration Practice Group website will provide resources to staff and private attorneys. This website will list contact information for the Immigration Practice Group members, as well as immigration consequences resources. The SPD currently has an immigration listserv for staff attorneys, which has recently become a message board. The Immigration Practice Group is using this message board to give staff attorneys broader access to immigration consequences advice from the Immigration Practice Group. The Immigration Practice Group is available to assist attorneys in any case where your client is not a natural born citizen. There are currently three Immigration Practice Group coordinators to serve staff attorneys and private bar attorney throughout the state. They are fielding questions by SPD region. Please do not hesitate to reach out. 

For further information, please contact one of the immigration practice group coordinators in your SPD region:
Janesville, Milwaukee, Waukesha, La Crosse Madison
          Melissa Nepomiachi     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Racine, Stevens Point, Eau Claire, Superior 
         Mindy Nolan     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

More About Melissa:

Melissa Nepomiachi graduated law school and joined the public defender's office in 2011. As the daughter of Argentine first generation immigrants, she always took an interest in working with immigrant communities. In college, she majored in Political Science and Latin American Studies, during which she also studied abroad to Latin America to hone in on her Spanish language skills. Prior to law school, she worked with as a Constituent Liaison in the Office of a New York City State Senator  providing services to underserved immigrant communities. At the University of Wisconsin Law School, she was a member of the Latino Law Student Association, took coursework in immigration law,and participated in several legal clinics including a Domestic Violence/U-Visa clinic and criminal defense clinics. Her knowledge at the intersection of criminal and immigration law is largely self –taught after working with non-citizen clients. She feels privileged to help others in the legal field develop their understanding of this complex and always changing area of law to better serve clients. In her free time, she likes spending time with her family, her dogs, going to concerts, and spending time outside.

More About Mindy:

Mindy Nolan has worked for the Wisconsin State Public Defender at the Racine Trial Office since 2014. She completed her law degree at Marquette University Law School and her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Mindy was the the President of both the Spanish Speaking Law Student Organization and the Public Interest Law Students Organization. She participated in moot court and completed in a National Moot Court Competition along with several hands on legal clinics. She has been working with the Spanish-speaking community for over 10 years in various capacities including victims’ rights advocacy, immigration law, and criminal defense. She believes in equal justice for all and considers it an honor to serve the underprivileged. Mindy balances her hectic legal career with adventurous travel, teaching yoga, and spending time outdoors.