A Bangladeshi national who was found deportable from the CNMI based on his 2011 conviction of marriage fraud was actually convicted of a crime that no longer existed at that time, according to Bashar’s new counsel, Janet H. King.
King said that Mohammad A. Bashar’s conviction is invalid for lack of jurisdiction and violates his constitutional right to due process and effective assistance of counsel.
Bashar, through King, filed last week a motion asking the Superior Court to set aside his plea and vacate his conviction and sentence.
King said she only recently discovered the error and has brought the motion at the earliest opportunity.
Bashar’s motion will be heard before Presiding Judge Robert C. Naraja on Dec. 15 at 1:30pm.
King said that Bashar’s plea, conviction, and sentence should be set aside as invalid because they are based on a statute that had already been repealed.
Bashar pleaded nolo contendere (no contest) to marriage fraud—under 3 CMC Section 4366—in February 2011. The court accepted his plea and a judgment of conviction was entered shortly thereafter.
King said 3 CMC Section 4366 was repealed in February 2010—a year before the plea.
King said Bashar’s prior attorney failed to advise Bashar that the statute had been repealed.
“These errors resulted in prejudice to Bashar, who was convicted and sentenced under the repealed statute and is being subjected to immigration removal proceedings,” the lawyer said.
King said Bashar’s other retained lawyer in his removal case also never advised him about the repealed statute.
Last July, King brought Bashar’s case to the U.S. Supreme Court as the defendant insisted that he was innocent of the charges and that he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel.
King said her purpose is to correct a manifest injustice to Bashar resulting from his plea and conviction for marriage fraud, after the statute criminalizing marriage fraud had been repealed.