On March 10, 2015, UC Hastings third-year Hastings Appellate Project students Hayley Reynolds and Daniel Zarchy appeared at the Ninth Circuit to argue their pro bono case, Soto-Rodriguez v. Holder, Case No. 14-71419. On April 14, 2015, the team received the Court's decision in their favor.
Reynolds delivered the winning argument before Ninth Circuit Judges William Fletcher and Morgan Christen and visiting Fourth Circuit Judge Andre M. Davis.
The case presents the novel issue of whether witness tampering is categorically a crime involving moral turpitude for purposes of federal immigration proceedings. The client, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., was convicted of witness tampering in Washington state after he wrote a letter to a co-defendant pleading with the co-defendant to testify truthfully at their consolidated trial. At the appellate oral argument, Reynolds noted that although the client was convicted of witness tampering in state court, his conduct did not demonstrate the kind of “evil intent” that would justify removing him from the country and his family under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
Hastings Appellate Project students are supervised by Gary Watt ‘97, Director of HAP and a partner and appellate specialist with Archer Norris, and Stephen Tollafield ’02, Associate Director of the UC Hastings Legal Writing and Moot Court Department. Now in its sixth year, HAP students provide pro bono appellate representation to indigent litigants who face sophisticated and novel legal issues that impact underrepresented and low-income communities across the country.