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Monday, June 14, 2004

Bueno Pro Bono

I and my firm are very proud of the work done by my colleagues Jayne Fleming and Ray Cardozo in a case decided today by the 9th Circuit, Garcia-Martinez v. Ashcroft (PDF). Here's the text of the email (lightly ellipsed and link added; editing is a little like nicotine to appellate lawyers) Kathy Banke, head of Reed Smith's appellate group, just sent the firm:

I am pleased to report an outstanding Ninth Circuit result in the high profile, pro bono appellate matter handled by Jayne Fleming and Ray Cardozo involving the denial of political asylum to Reina Garcia-Martinez. As you may recall..., Garcia had been gang-raped by the Guatemalan military during that country's civil war.

In a published opinion..., the Ninth Circuit today reversed the asylum denial, remarking that Garcia has "survived atrocities that most of us experience only in our worst nightmares" and that "persecution is stamped on every page of this record." The opinion recognizes several key principles that will go a long way in protecting the rights of women victims of persecution in asylum cases.

From both the appellate and asylum practitioner's standpoint, the result is particularly remarkable for two reasons. First, the ground for the decision—insufficient evidence to support the IJ's decision—is one that rarely succeeds. Second, the published opinion was authored by Johnnie B. Rawlinson, one of the Ninth Circuit's more conservative judges known for voting against asylum in the vast majority of cases.

Hats off to Ray and Jayne for their tremendous effort.

And here's more about Jayne's argument in the case, including a WMA version of the argument from the Court's audio argument archive:

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