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Wiley Rein Files Petition for Rehearing En Banc in Ninth Circuit Immigration Appeal Challenging Use of Abstracts of Judgment in Removal Proceedings

May 24, 2010

Wiley Rein LLP has filed a petition for rehearing en banc in an important case involving agency discretion and immigration law.  In Ramirez-Villalpando v. Holder, 601 F.3d 891 (9th Cir. 2010), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit approved the use of abstracts of judgment to prove the underlying facts of a prior criminal conviction for purposes of removal.  An abstract of judgment is a legal document prepared by a court clerk after a criminal conviction in California that summarizes the court’s judgment and authorizes sentencing authorities to carry out the court’s judgment and sentence.  The Ninth Circuit held that an abstract of judgment could be used to establish that the petitioner had previously been convicted of theft of personal property and was therefore removable under federal immigration law.

Wiley Rein attorney Brett A. Shumate argued the appeal for the petitioner, a lawful U.S. permanent resident facing deportation.  The petition for rehearing filed on his behalf argues that the Ninth Circuit’s decision conflicts with other circuit courts that have found abstracts of judgment are not sufficiently reliable to establish the underlying facts of a prior conviction.  The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Immigration Law Clinic of the University of California, Davis School of Law, and the Washington Defender Association’s Immigration Project have filed an amici curiae brief in support of rehearing en banc in the Ninth Circuit.  The Department of Justice, responding to the Ninth Circuit’s order, has opposed rehearing en banc.