Chadbourne Pro Bono Attorneys Achieve Asylum for African Detainee
Win in Successive Appeals Beats the Odds In Asylum Case
August 31, 2006
NEW YORK — Chadbourne & Parke LLP has won an asylum case on behalf of a 25-year-old African detainee by successfully bringing successive appeals before the Board of Immigration of Appeals following two denials by the Immigration Judge.
The July 10 victory capped a nine-month process during which the Chadbourne attorneys worked with the client to prepare his appeals and remand hearing before the Immigration Judge. All told, the client spent 16 months in detention at the Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, N.J. He was released from detention on July 20.
While the success rate of appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is currently estimated to be about 4%, Chadbourne managed to win two separate appeals on the client's behalf in a period of about six months.
The pro bono effort saw associates C. Ian Anderson, Michael Kelly, Cassandre Charles and Robert Grossman (under the supervision of litigation partner Peter Hillman) undertake the difficult task of gathering new evidence from Africa, prepare two sets of appeal papers to the BIA, and conduct a remand hearing, all within a constrained time period. (The win was Chadbourne's third in asylum cases this year, the two previous victories coming on behalf of a West African family and a Tibetan monk.)
Chadbourne took the case on an expedited basis from Human Rights First (HRF), after the first denial (where the client had been represented by a solo practitioner).
“The client had already been ordered removed when Chadbourne took on his case from us. The Chadbourne team did an amazing job in the long uphill struggle to get that decision reversed, and of sustaining their client’s morale during that slow and often dispiriting process," said Anwen Hughes of HRF. "Thanks to them, their client has his future back. Without their help, he would have been deported a year ago.”
Chadbourne had only four weeks to gather new evidence and write the appeal brief to the BIA. The first appeal was heard by a three-member panel at the BIA that agreed with the attorneys that the Immigration Judge had made numerous material errors, and therefore remanded the case for a new hearing.
When the Immigration Judge again denied the client's application for asylum, following a remand hearing at which compelling new evidence was presented on his behalf, Chadbourne was forced to take a second appeal to the BIA on an expedited basis. Only three and one-half months after the Immigration Judge’s second denial, the BIA issued its second opinion again reversing the Immigration Judge, this time granting asylum outright in the client's favor.
The client's problems began in November 2003. He had become involved with a human rights advocacy group in his hometown and one day he brought a victim of arbitrary detention and torture to the group to file a complaint against the police. Between November 2003 and January 2004, the client was arrested three times by the police, detained and tortured on a daily basis. When he was released the third time, and his life threatened by the police, he went into hiding for more than a year.
In March 2005, he fled Africa and arrived in New York without any travel documents. Fearful of continuing persecution in Africa, the client applied for asylum.