At 9th Circuit, Georgia Law Appellate Litigation Clinic students press client’s case for asylum, withholding of removal, relief under Convention Against Torture

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard arguments this week in an immigration case prepared by a team of students in the Appellate Litigation Clinic here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Georgia Law 3L Sarah Nelson argued on behalf of client Alicia Naranjo Garcia in Case No. 19-72803, Naranjo Garcia v. Barr. On account of the covid-19 pandemic, Nelson’s argument was delivered virtually, to a panel composed of Ninth Circuit Judges Ronald M. Gould and Michelle T. Friedland, along with U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough, sitting by designation. (Video here; Nelson is pictured above at lower left.)

Joining Nelson on the briefs were Jonathan Kaufman and Joe Scarborough, who earned their J.D.s earlier this year.  3L Maddie Conkel, one of Nelson’s classmates in the Appellate Litigation Clinic, helped Nelson prepare for the argument.

Together they represent appellant Naranjo Garcia, the mother of two children who are U.S. citizens. The client herself came to the United States after a cartel killed her husband, stole her husband’s property, tried to recruit her son, stole her home, and twice threatened to kill her.

Both the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed that she had been persecuted, but found that her persecution was not “on account of” a protected ground.  Because of that, they denied her asylum and withholding of removal claims.  They also found that no public official would acquiesce to her being tortured if she were returned, and thus denied her claim under the Convention Against Torture.

The Ninth Circuit panel is now deliberating.

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