Notable Wins

Jack L. (A deportation vignette)

I want to share some anecdotes from my deportation and removal cases. Today I’ll discuss one I won back in 2008, in the US Immigration Court in Seattle, Washington. This removal case involved a man from Laos. I’ll call him Jack, Jack L. Jack L. had murdered a US citizen 13 years before I won his deportation case.

Jack was in removal proceedings because he had used a non-attorney to help him prepare his N-400 application for US citizenship. The person who prepared the N-400 for him was probably not competent to do so, but the form could have conceivably been based on the information which Jack had provided to her. I don’t know for sure. Jack might have said that he didn’t have any active criminal cases. Who knows exactly what he told her. What the N-400 application indicated was that Jack, the man who later hired me for his removal proceedings, had no criminal record. None. However, the man who later became my client most assuredly did have a criminal record. Thirteen years before, this man had intentionally shot a US citizen in the head, in Seattle, killing him.

Okay, who taught Jack how to use firearms? The US military did. The US military trained a lot of people in Laos to fight Communist insurgents, and they trained Jack for some six months. Jack then fought Communist insurgents in Laos for around five years or so. And nearly had his foot blown in the process. Arguably this makes Jack something of a US war hero. Then the Communists won and they were prepared to kill all of the anti-Communist personnel which the US had trained, so the US gave their US trained soldiers refugee status in the US. So why was my client shooting at a US citizen in Seattle 13 years before I won his deportation case? Thirteen years before, Jack had looked out of his apartment window and had seen four ghetto gangbangers in and around Jack’s car. These young men had broken into Jack’s car and were stealing things out of it. Jack (peacefully) shouted at them to leave. They did. However, when Jack saw five minutes later that the four guys were back, stealing things out of his car again, he, misguidedly, shot and killed one. Jack was convicted of 2nd Degree Manslaughter and spent 11 months in prison for his crime.

By a strange, and possibly compelling twist of fate, the very morning of my client’s deportation trial, the US Supreme Court published a ruling that people in Washington, D.C. had a right to carry handguns under the Second Amendment. In my client’s deportation trial, a few hours after the US Supremes published their ruling, the government trial attorney in my client’s case, discussing technical concerns which the Immigration Judge had raised, indicated that the government would not appeal the judge’s grant of relief. And that’s how I won. Since Congress took away so much of the Immigration Judges’ discretion, it’s up to the Trial Attorneys to keep an eye out for meritorious cases . No magic here.

Personally, I just want cases that I can believe in. While I had the strongest reservations in taking this removal case, initially, by three days before the trial, I had become a believer.