• Ninth Circuit "Veterans"
  • June 18, 2012 | Author: Gary A. Watt
  • Law Firm: Archer Norris A Professional Law Corporation - Walnut Creek Office
  • As director and supervising attorney for the Hastings Appellate Project, I work with some terrific young legal talent and this year was no exception.  We invited six Hastings students to join the program this past academic year and handled three Ninth Circuit Appeals pro bono.

    In one appeal, 3Ls Mara Boundy and Kelly Matayoshi represented a client facing deportation.  Despite an immigration judge's favorable ruling below, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed based on a controversial interpretation of amended federal immigration statutes and BIA/Ninth Circuit retroactivity decisions.  Mara and Kelly not only wrote two briefs on the merits addressing the tension in the Circuit's retroactivity decisions, they also wrote an amicus brief when the Ninth Circuit granted en banc review of a different subdivision of the same statutory scheme.  Mara argued our client's case in March before Circuit Judges Consuelo M. Callahan and Carlos T. Bea along with Judge Mark W. Bennett of the Northern District of Iowa, sitting by designation.  The case, while submitted for decision, is now in a holding pattern while the Ninth Circuit decides the en banc matter.  A favorable decision there almost certainly means one in our case as well -- but this one could go either way!

    In another appeal, 3Ls Heidi Hansen Kalscheur and Nolan Shaw represented a client facing removal from the United States based on the Board of Immigration Appeals' decision that California's simple kidnapping statute is, categorically speaking, a crime of moral turpitude.  To say that this appeal was an esoteric brain teaser just barely describes the thorny interplay between the federal generic definition of moral turpitude and California decisional law on simple kidnapping.  Heidi and Nolan wrote two briefs on the merits and in May, Nolan argued the matter before Circuit Judges Stephen R. Reinhardt, N. Randy Smith, and Richard R. Clifton.  All present were treated to a rare bit of decorum when Judge Smith made his way around the entire courtroom prior to the start of the oral arguments, personally greeting lawyers, clients and audience alike.  We are cautiously optimistic that our client will obtain a favorable ruling!

    Our final appeal this year was also our first victory among the three.  There, 3Ls Jenna Morton and Zachary Young, represented a Nicaraguan national facing deportation after deserting from the Sandinistas over refusing to take place in human rights atrocities inflicted on the local citizenry.  The Justice Department's lawyers, in what can only be viewed as hardball tactics pursued against a pro se litigant/immigrant, sought summary dismissal of our client's appeal prior to our retention.  The Ninth Circuit rejected those tactics and we were appointed counsel.  Zachary and Jenna filed an opening brief identifying errors made by the Board of Immigration Appeals.  Instead of filing an opposition brief, the government reversed course, agreeing that a remand was required and moving for one!  The matter is now back before the BIA.

    In a sign of these economic times, four of these six Ninth Circuit "vets" still do not have any concrete plans for after the bar exam.  This is strictly a down market phenomenon.