Two UC Hastings students have won an important immigration ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over the types of crimes that trigger removal from the U.S.
Heidi Hansen Kalscheur ’12 and Nolan Shaw ’12 represented Javier Castrijon-Garcia as part of the Hastings Appellate Project (HAP). Their client, an undocumented immigrant, faced deportation, in part because he had pleaded guilty to attempted simple kidnapping in California 20 years prior.
The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) held that because it considered the crime one of “moral turpitude,” Castrijon was statutorily barred from cancellation of his removal.
But in a unanimous published decision Jan. 9, 2013, a 9th Circuit panel overturned the BIA decision. The court said that under the California statute, simple kidnapping is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude, and remanded the case back to the BIA for further proceedings.
Shaw and Hansen Kalscheur were supervised by Gary Watt ‘97, Director of HAP and a partner and appellate specialist with Archer Norris. The court relied heavily on the students’ briefs and analysis, said Professor Stephen Tollafield, Associate Director of the Legal Writing & Moot Court program at UC Hastings.
In its four-year history, Hastings Appellate Project students have won seven of eight appeals in the federal appeals court. Three more cases are pending.
Shaw said the Castrijion case “was an uphill battle from the start.” The students did all the research and briefing, in addition to oral arguments. Shaw argued the case the day after his graduation from UC Hastings. “He did a phenomenal job of arguing, as good as any lawyers there that day,” Watt said. Until HAP took his case, Castrijion had no appellate counsel.
“What makes this case unique was the complex interplay among three bodies of law, the California penal code, the federal immigration laws, and the common and statutory law on crimes of moral turpitude,” Watt said.
The work, said Watt, is stressful, but Shaw and Hansen “did an exemplary job. They were tireless.” Shaw now works at Curtis Legal Group in Modesto. Hansen Kalscheur works as a fellow with HAP in San Francisco.
Watt said a successful clinical program like HAP goes beyond its win-loss record. “The students learned what it means to be dedicated to a client. They learned the significance of providing legal counsel for those who are helpless without it. They earned the ‘pro bono glow,’ which is a very real and palpable thing.”
The case is Castrijon-Garcia v. Holder, No. 09-73756. The case can be found here.