Our Consultation Process



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, 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 Consultation Request 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 whatever legal research may be 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.


Interested in a consultation? Fill out our Intake Form.






Norton Tooby graduated in 1967 with a B.A. from Harvard College, and in 1970 with a J.D. from the Stanford Law School, where he served as President of the Stanford Law Review.  He is listed in BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA and BEST LAWYERS IN CALIFORNIA.  In 2000, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center awarded him its Philip Burton Immigration & Civil Rights Award for Immigration Lawyering for "his pioneering work in the field of post-conviction relief for immigrants."  He was honored in 2010 by the National Lawyers Guild National Immigration Project for "Outstanding Work in Defense of Immigrant Rights." He was honored in 2011 with the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for Excellence in Litigation in the field of Immigration Law as a member of the legal team that successfully litigated Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.Ct. 1473 (2010).

His national practice is based in Oakland, California.  He obtains post-conviction relief from criminal convictions for immigrants nationwide, writes practice manuals for immigration and criminal lawyers, gives seminars, and maintains a legal research website, www.NortonTooby.com. He also consults concerning immigration consequences of past and future criminal convictions, and how to avoid them.


Casework.   He handled a death penalty appeal, obtaining reversal of all convictions, and setting the client at liberty.  People v. Marks (1988) 45 Cal.3d 1335.  His published decisions relating to post-conviction relief for immigrants include People v. Totari (2003) 111 Cal.App.4th 1202 (reversing trial court’s order denying a motion to vacate a conviction under Penal Code § 1016.5); People v. Totari (2002) 28 Cal.4th 876 (denial of a motion to vacate a conviction under Penal Code § 1016.5 is appealable); In re Resendiz (2001) 25 Cal.4th 230 (defense counsel’s misadvice concerning actual immigration consequences of plea can constitute ineffective assistance of counsel)(represented amici curiae on the briefs and at oral argument); People v. Kim (2009) 45 Cal.4th 1078, 202 P.3d 436 (holding petitioner ineligible for a writ of error coram nobis on the facts of the case); consultant on merits and amicus briefing in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.Ct. 1473 (2010)(criminal defense counsel has constitutional duty to give affirmative, accurate advice on immigration consequences to noncitizen defendants as requirement of effective assistance of counsel).


Publications – TOOBY'S GUIDE TO CRIMINAL IMMIGRATION LAW: HOW CRIMINAL AND IMMIGRATION COUNSEL CAN WORK TOGETHER (2009)(free PDF download available on www.NortonTooby.com); POST-CONVICTION RELIEF FOR IMMIGRANTS (National Edition 2004), CALIFORNIA POST-CONVICTION RELIEF FOR IMMIGRANTS (2d ed. 2009), CALIFORNIA EXPUNGEMENT MANUAL (2002), CATEGORICAL ANALYSIS TOOL KIT (2009); and, with J.J. Rollin, CRIMINAL DEFENSE OF IMMIGRANTS (4th ed. 2007) (with 2012 supp.), SAFE HAVENS: HOW TO IDENTIFY AND CONSTRUCT NON-DEPORTABLE CONVICTIONS (2005), CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE (3d ed. 2009), and AGGRAVATED FELONIES (3d ed. 2006). He publishes a free monthly eNewsletter on criminal immigration law, and a premium monthly eNewsletter on California post-conviction relief for immigrants.


Seminars – For nearly 20 years, Mr. Tooby has 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 has spoken nearly every year since 1995 at the American Immigration Lawyers Association national conference.


Praise– "You continue to be a breath of fresh air! Thank you for always being there for the attorneys who reach out to you for wisdom and experience."  --Karen Hill, San Francisco


Interested in a Consultation? Fill out our Intake Form