Notable Cases


  • Client, a Legal Permanent Resident, was facing removal due to a conviction for Criminal Sexual Conduct -5th Degree. He had already hired one attorney who was unsuccessful in vacating the conviction. Our firm filed a second Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, a procedure which is extremely disfavored under the law, and was then successful in vacating the conviction on the grounds that Client had not properly waived his right to a jury trial.
  • Client was being prosecuted in Federal Court for illegal re-entry after deportation and facing a substantially higher sentence due to a felony conviction for Assault-2nd Degree. Our firm represented Client on criminal charges in Federal Court and filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief in state court, successfully vacating the conviction for lack of a factual basis for the guilty plea, and obtaining a substantially lower sentence for Client in the Federal criminal case.
  • Client was referred to our firm by an out-of-state lawyer who was seeking a U visa for the client. Client needed to vacate an “aggravated felony” conviction for Controlled Substance Crime-3rd Degree in order to be released from ICE custody and pursue her U visa. We successfully vacated the conviction for failure to advise Client about the immigration consequences of her guilty plea. Client was released from custody and reunited with her young children.
  • As a law student and young lawyer in the 1990s, Bruce Nestor worked with attorney Clemens Erdahl to seek justice for Sherman White – an African American man wrongfully sentenced to life in prison for a 1972 robbery and murder. While reviewing the 20-year-old police files, Nestor uncovered exculpatory evidence showing that the police had coached witnesses and withheld that information from defense lawyers. Despite a series of losses, Erdahl continued pursuing the claim and eventually overturned the conviction in 1999 – resulting in Sherman White’s release from prison after 27 years.

Immigration Cases

  • Our Legal Permanent Resident client was ordered deported by an Immigration Judge based on a Minnesota conviction for Felony-Drive By Shooting. Our firm appealed the removal order to the Board of Immigration Appeals and successfully argued the conviction was not a “crime of violence.” As a result, Client was released from custody is now eligible to become a United States citizen.
  • Client, a long-time Lawful Permanent Resident, served a 72-month federal prison sentence for distribution of a controlled substance. Proceeding on his own, Client convinced an Immigration Judge to grant relief under the Convention Against Torture. This decision was then reversed by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Our firm, on a pro bono basis, filed in Federal Court for review of the BIA decision. The Federal Court found that the BIA acted improperly and Client was released from ICE custody and reunited with his family in the United States.
  • While intoxicated, Client broke into a house believing that it was his own. He plead guilty to Burglary-1st Degree and was placed on probation. ICE then detained him for deportation proceedings. Our firm successfully argued to the Immigration Judge that his conviction was not a “crime involving moral turpitude” and Client was released from custody and kept his status as a Legal Permanent Resident.

Appellate Decisions

  • In an effort to hold police accountable to the community, citizens of Iowa City collected signatures to hold an election referendum on various amendments to the City Charter which would strengthen a Citizens Review Board and impose other limits on police. When the Iowa City Council refused to place the measures on the ballot, attorney Bruce Nestor filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus to force a vote on the issues. After losing in District Court, Nestor successfully appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. At a later election, citizens of Iowa City overwhelmingly approved the new Charter Amendment.
  • Client, a victim of domestic abuse, was prosecuted by local officials for multiple felony offenses related to the use of false documents to obtain employment. These convictions made her ineligible for relief under the Violence Against Women Act. After losing in District Court, our firm successfully appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and Minnesota Supreme Court, resulting in a reversal of the convictions on the grounds that federal law barred State prosecutors from using I-9 employment documents to prosecute people for State crimes. Client is now a U.S. citizen.
  • In 2010, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), holding that non-citizens must be informed about the “clear immigration consequences” of any guilty plea to a criminal offense. Our client had plead guilty, at age 17, in 2009 to a robbery charge and was facing loss of his Legal Permanent Resident status. We successfully argue to the Court of Appeals that Padilla should be given retroactive effect. Although we then lost on this issue before the Minnesota Supreme Court, we won on alternative grounds that resulted in our Client’s case being returned to District Court where his conviction was vacated. In addition, during the time between the decision of the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, hundreds of other non-citizens were able to take advantage of our win in the Court of Appeals and vacate their pre-2010 convictions based on Padilla.

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