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Kerry William Bretz.webp








Kerry Bretz is a former Trial Attorney for the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and Senior Partner at Bretz & Coven, a firm concentrating in deportation defense and the immigration consequences of criminal and fraudulent activity. He played a major role in challenging the retroactive application of new immigration laws and mandatory detention. He was the attorney of record in Henderson v INS, 157 F.3d 106 (2d Cir. 1998), and both on the brief and at counsel's table before the U.S. Supreme Court in INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289 (2001) and Calcano-Martinez v. INS, 533 U.S. 348 (2001), cases that changed the availability of relief to non-citizens with criminal convictions and secured the right to seek judicial review of decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Additionally, after numerous briefs and oral arguments, the Court in St John v McElroy (SDNY 1996) found unconstitutional a former mandatory detention statute. Mr. Bretz was awarded $88,000 in Equal Access to Justice Act fees for his pro bono work on that case, in which he represented a mentally challenged non-citizen with a foreign drug trafficking conviction.

He is regularly consulted by the criminal defense bar, quoted in newspapers, and has appeared on reputable television programs (CNN, O'Reilly Factor, Judge Jeannie, etc.). Kerry Bretz is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a frequent lecturer at CLE presentations and other events presented by the firm and sponsored by local bar associations and the offices of local elected officials. He is also a former Commissioner for the Archdiocese of New York's Commission for the Dignity of Immigrants.

Kerry Bretz is Martindale-Hubbell® AV-Rated®, the highest peer-review rating an attorney can receive, and listed in both The Best Lawyers in America© and Super Lawyers. He is admitted to practice in New York, Connecticut, and Florida and before the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, Third Circuit and Fifth Circuit.

He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York and received his Juris Doctor from the City University of New York at Queens College.

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  • Pottinger v. Reno, 51 F.Supp.2d 349 (E.D.N.Y. 1999)

  • Reno v. Navas, 119 S. Ct. 1141 (U.S. Mar. 8, 1999)

  • Henderson v. INS, 157 F.3d 106 (2d Cir. 1998), cert. denied sub nom.

  • Mojica v. Reno, 970 F.Supp. 130 (E.D.N.Y. 1997); aff’d

  • St. John v. McElroy, 917 F.Supp. 243 (S.D.N.Y. 1996)

  • Cruz-Taveras v. McElroy, 1996 WL 455012 (S.D.N.Y. August 12, 1996)

  • Thomas v. McElroy, 1996 WL 487953 (S.D.N.Y. August 23, 1996) (same)

  • Alba v. McElroy, Dkt. No. 96 CIV. 8748 (DLC), 1996 WL 695811 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 4, 1996)

  • Thomas v. McElroy, Dkt. No. 96 CIV. 5065 (JSM), 1996 WL 487953 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 27, 1996)

  • Cruz-Taveras v. McElroy, Dkt. No. 96 CIV. 5068 (MBM), 1996 WL 455012 (S.D.N.Y. Aug 13, 1996)

  • St. John v. McElroy, 917 F.Supp. 243 (S.D.N.Y. 1996).

Admitted to Practice:

  • Connecticut 1991

  • New York 1992

  • Florida 1996

  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of NY 1994

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit 1996

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit 1998

  • U.S. Court of Appeal, Fifth Circuit 1999


  • Spanish


  • Juris Doctor, City University of New York Queens College 1991

  • Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York 1988

Lawyer Memberships:

  • American Immigration Lawyers Association

  • The Association of the Bar of the City of New York

  • Member, Immigration Committee 1997

  • New York City Lawyers Association

  • Member, Immigration Committee 1993

Kerry William Bretz


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