Open Letter on What’s Up with Us at the Law Offices of Norton Tooby


        Please pay close attention to this letter if you subscribe to any of our newsletters or are interested in our legal consultation services.


        This letter will describe what we have been up to at the Law Offices of Norton Tooby, and what this means for our various publications, including the online editions of our practice manuals and our various electronic newsletters. The short story is that we have been working hard on a major new publication, and gotten behind on some of our newsletters, but have caught up so the online editions of our nearly 8000 pages of practice manuals, which we normally update monthly, are again up to date on our website,


New Publication

        For nearly two years, Kathy Brady and I have been working on a new publishing project, California Criminal Defense of Immigrants, published by California Continuing Education of the Bar on August 15, 2014. This was a monumental task, and resulted in a 700-page practice manual that tells criminal lawyers what they need to know to represent immigrant defendants that is different from representing U.S. citizens in criminal court.

         As you know, Continuing Education of the Bar has an established track record of publishing excellent practice manuals in many areas of California law, and especially the wonderful “Criminal Law Bible,” California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice (CEB 2014). We are very grateful to CEB for doing a terrific editorial job in making sure the text is accurate, clear, and well-organized.

         The subject matter of this new book is broken down into four areas:
I. First Steps. Approaching the defense of immigrants in criminal cases, which covers the special vocabulary necessary for this work, how investigating the criminal case differs from the normal investigative work for U.S. citizen clients, obtaining expert information, written, and on-line resources, and the difficult topic of getting the client out of criminal detention and immigration detention, and the relationship between the two.
II. Safe Haven Dispositions. The heart of the book, Chapters 5-13, consists of specific definitions of immigration-neutral dispositions, both in general (Chapter 5), and in the specific areas of assault and battery offenses, burglary offenses, controlled substances offenses, domestic violence offenses, DUI offenses, firearms offenses, sex offenses, and theft offenses. We tried to cover the most common types of criminal cases, and have specific suggestions for avoiding immigration damage to our clients by identifying and constructing safe dispositions.
III. Specific Stages of the Criminal Case. Part III takes the criminal case step by step, and identifies actions effective counsel should take at each stage to represent immigrant clients that differ from the normal work of representing U.S. citizen defendants. This organization makes it particularly easy for criminal defense counsel to find what you need to do by looking at the stage of the case: negotiations and entry of a plea, litigation, sentencing, probation violation proceedings, juvenile proceedings, concluding the criminal case, and a particularly useful 60-page chapter on the special techniques of using California post-conviction proceedings to protect immigrant clients by eliminating criminal convictions and sentences that cause immigration damage.
IV. Immigration Proceedings. Finally, there are two chapters summarizing key aspects of immigration law that defense counsel should have available: a detailed description of immigration proceedings to remove noncitizens from the United States because of their criminal history, so we can explain to clients what is coming up for them in that forum, and, finally, an extensive chapter on the most important forms of relief from adverse immigration consequences of crimes that are available in immigration proceedings, so defense counsel knows how to assist the client to qualify for these types of relief by handling the criminal case properly.

         I have been practicing criminal law, including appellate and post-conviction work, for nearly 45 years, since starting a law office with friends on April Fool’s Day, 1970, where I worked for the better part of a year before being sworn into the California Bar. Since 1986, nearly 28 years, I have increasingly concentrated my work on representing immigrants in criminal cases, and obtaining post-conviction relief from criminal convictions and sentences to avoid immigration damage, and that has long been my entire practice. You can read more information about my biography by clicking here. I like to think that my background as a criminal lawyer makes this practice manual easier for criminal lawyers to understand.

         Kathy Brady has practiced immigration law since 1984. She is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, where she has worked during the 27 years since 1987. The ILRC is famous for the quality of its work in giving seminars for immigration and criminal lawyers, and for publishing practice materials, in the areas of immigration law of most importance to immigrants facing problems relating to crimes. Kathy has written the most important immigration practice materials relating to California offenses, including Chapter 52 in the criminal law “bible,” California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice (CEB 2014), on the subject of Representing the Noncitizen Criminal Defendant, and the two-volume work, Defending Immigrants in the Ninth Circuit: Impact of Crimes Under California and Other State Laws (formerly California Criminal Law and Immigration). She has also been the primary author of the ILRC’s valuable free online resources relating to criminal immigration law in California. You can read more about her biography by clicking here. Kathy’s national criminal immigration law expertise makes this new book very reliable and up-to-date in terms of the relevant immigration law.

          We encourage you to consider purchasing this valuable new practice manual as an important resource to assist immigration defendants (a) to overcome the special challenges they face as criminal defendants in obtaining better criminal dispositions, (b) to avoid immigration damage by tailoring criminal dispositions to avoid the pitfalls buried in complex and rapidly changing immigration law, and (c) obtaining post-conviction relief where necessary to alter prior convictions and sentences to avoid the immigration damage they cause. You can see the Table of Contents of the book by clicking here. You can support both my office and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center by purchasing this book on



Other National and California Practice Manuals

          This office has written and published numerous other practice manuals in the area of criminal and immigration law, including Criminal Defense of Immigrants, the three-volume, 3000-page set the Supreme Court described as an “authoritative treatise” in the area of criminal immigration law. Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 368 (2010). We also publish a number of other national practice manuals, including Aggravated Felonies, Crimes of Moral Turpitude, Safe Havens: How to Identify and Construct Non-Deportable Convictions, and Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants. Our other California-specific manual is California Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants (2009). We keep electronic editions of all of these manuals up to date online by publishing monthly updates, keyed to each relevant section of each of these books. While working on the new California manual, California Criminal Defense of Immigrants (2014), we got behind, but all of our online manuals are now completely up-to-date through August, 2014. You can learn more about them, and obtain softcover printed copies of these practice manuals, and online editions of them, at our bookstore on

          Tooby’s Guide to Criminal Immigration Law. Our office publishes this short (200-page), simple summary of the overlap and relationship of criminal and immigration law, as a free introduction to the field. You may obtain your free electronic copy as a complimentary PDF download by clicking here.



          California Criminal Defense of Immigrants Newsletter. Continuing Education of the Bar is kind enough to publish this new electronic newsletter, beginning with the October 2014 issue. This newsletter will cover the relevant national immigration law that affects criminal defense of immigrants in California, as well as the California law on the subject. The case summaries and other developments will be cross-referenced to the relevant sections of this practice manual, so it will serve as a cumulative indexed update from the research cut-off date for the printed volume of the current edition to the present on an ongoing basis. You may obtain a subscription to this newsletter from Continuing Education of the Bar.

         Premium Web Update Criminal Immigration Law Newsletter. This office publishes a monthly national criminal immigration newsletter, summarizing the case law and other important developments each month. While working on the new California CEB practice manual, we got behind in publishing these, but have now virtually caught up so the coverage is complete. Each new development is keyed to the appropriate sections in each of our online practice manuals, so you can obtain an online update containing the current information on each topic covered in each volume on an ongoing basis. You may subscribe to this important service for $19.95 per month by clicking here.

          California Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants Newsletter. Our office also has, until now, published a monthly electronic newsletter specifically devoted to California law to update our practice manual, California Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants (2009). Because this topic will now be covered in the CEB California Criminal Defense of Immigrants E-Newsletter, starting in October, our September 2014 issue will be our last, but it will cover the entire last year in the final issue.

          Free Monthly Criminal Immigration Newsletter. Finally, our office publishes a complimentary monthly newsletter that covers selected recent developments and descriptions of the resources available in this area of work. You can subscribe by clicking here.


Seminars for Criminal and Immigration Lawyers

          For nearly 20 years, we have given day-long seminars in California and nationwide on criminal immigration law, in partnership with the finest immigration nonprofits, including the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild in Boston, the Immigrant Defense Project in New York, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, and have spoken many times since 1995 at the American Immigration Lawyers Association national conference.

          This spring, 2015, we will be joining Kathy Brady of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, in offering our regular day-long California criminal immigration law seminar in San Francisco and Los Angeles to criminal and immigration lawyers.


Consultation Services

         Foreign national clients with criminal histories face potential problems in immigration removal proceedings that may have solutions:
(a) in removal proceedings, through winning an argument that the conviction does not in fact trigger deportation or inadmissibility, or that the client is in fact eligible for relief from removal despite the criminal history, or
(b) in post-conviction proceedings in the criminal court where the conviction occurred, that can transform a conviction that triggers removal into a different disposition that does not.
         For examples of different types of successful consultations, see Getting a Second Opinion.
         The Law Offices of Norton Tooby are uniquely qualified to evaluate a client’s immigration status and criminal history, create a chronology of the relevant events using information from our Intake Form, and analyze the immigration consequences of the criminal history at each point.
We can then look for arguments that can be made in immigration proceedings that the criminal history does not in fact trigger immigration damage. Because our practice manuals for immigration attorneys and criminal defense attorneys survey the criminal immigration law decisions from across the country, we can often identify a winning argument that has worked elsewhere in the country and that can be tried here.
          If there is no way to avoid the immigration consequences by making arguments in immigration court, may still be possible to obtain post-conviction relief in the criminal court in which the conviction occurred. We can evaluate any criminal case, state or federal, anywhere in the country, to see exactly what kind of post-conviction relief could solve the immigration problem, and to evaluate the chances of success in obtaining it. This includes an evaluation of the various types of post-conviction relief that are available in the court in which the conviction occurred, the grounds of legal invalidity that may be present in the client’s case, the safe havens or alternative dispositions that might have been available originally to avoid the immigration problem, and that would be likely to work right now to avoid the damage, and the favorable facts about the client’s life and criminal history that might be useful in persuading the prosecutor and court to assist us in avoiding the immigration damage.
         Our consultations involve the following steps:
(1) We review the client’s Intake Form and the documents from the client’s immigration history and criminal cases;
(2) We create a Chronology of the relevant dates and what happened on each date;
(3) We review the Chronology with the client to make sure it is accurate, and to add additional dates that are relevant to the analysis of the immigration problem and its potential solutions;
(4) We analyze the client’s immigration status and the immigration consequences of the criminal history at each point throughout the Chronology;
(5) We identify the immigration risks the client faces, and seek arguments against the adverse immigration consequences that might flow from each conviction;
(6) We evaluate each criminal conviction that causes immigration damage, to see whether there is some form of post-conviction relief that might be available to solve the problem;
(7) We outline a course of action by which the client may be able to avoid removal by making arguments in immigration court, and by seeking post-conviction relief in criminal court; and
(8) We make referrals to competent immigration counsel to pursue the immigration solutions; and to criminal counsel to pursue immigration-neutral plea bargains and post-conviction relief if necessary.

          Our consultations include review of the paperwork in advance of the consultation, and brief legal research as necessary. They also include a 1.5 hour consultation by phone or in person with one or two attorneys and/or a paralegal, so we can provide detailed written consultation notes by email or in person shortly after the consultation is over.

         We seek to provide a holistic approach to dealing successfully with the entire situation, with intelligence, great experience in these matters, and compassion.

         This office is uniquely qualified to do this for cases anywhere in the country, and is experienced in evaluating cases and recommending successful strategies in any criminal court in the country including state or federal court, immigration courts, and appellate courts all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.


Norton Tooby