U.S. top court sides with immigrant deported for drugs in sock

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 01, 2015 2:40 PM

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that an immigrant from Tunisia who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge for concealing pills in a sock he was wearing cannot be deported for the offense.

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of Moones Mellouli, who had U.S. permanent resident status. He was found carrying inside the sock four orange pills, which turned out to be Adderall, a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, when stopped by Kansas police in 2010.

Mellouli was convicted under a state drug paraphernalia law and sentenced to probation, which he completed. He was also convicted of driving under the influence, but was not charged with drug possession, and the indictment did not identify the drug in question.

In 2012, he was deported due to his paraphernalia conviction.

Writing on behalf of the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said concealment of drugs in a sock was a "low-level infraction" not even criminalized in some states.

To be deported for a drug offense, an immigrant has to be convicted of a crime that has a direct link to a drug covered by federal drug laws. In Mellouli's case, no such connection was made, Ginsburg said.

The case is Mellouli v. Lynch, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1034.

(Editing by Will Dunham)