South Korean Paul Hyunpyo Lee pleaded guilty in 2004 to committing felonies and misdemeanors involving wife beating, child abuse, criminal threats and drug possession in exchange for a sweetheart deal inside Orange County Superior Court.
Judge M. Marc Kelly could have sentenced Lee to four years and eight months in a California prison, but gave him a term of two years–and suspended execution of the incarceration.
In effect, Lee's punishment was 210 days in the Orange County Jail prior to the resolution of his case and three years of formal probation.
But Lee—who repeatedly violated the terms of his probation by contacting his abused wife and children–now doesn't like his sweetheart deal because it contained a poison pill: The U.S. Government deported him back to South Korea and refuses to let him return.
From the other side of the planet, Lee is complaining that he didn't know that his guilty plea gave federal immigration officials the right to boot him out of the country and, eight years after the fact, he wants to withdraw his plea.
Last week, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Lee's argument that his constitutional rights have been violated and issued an easy 7-page ruling.
Justices Kathleen O'Leary, William Bedsworth and Richard Fybel noted that Lee signed the guilty plea form and specifically initialed a box that stated he acknowledged the potential of deportation because he is not a U.S. citizen.
Upshot: Unless a federal appellate court decides to review Lee's plight, the case is closed and Lee will remain in South Korea.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.