Georgia Law Appellate Litigation Clinic students ask for asylum and withholding of removal in 11th Circuit oral argument

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

Georgia Law 3L Maddie Conkel argued on behalf of the petitioner in Case No. 19-15144, Denis Aguilera Fernandez v. Garland. On account of the Covid-19 pandemic, Conkel’s argument was delivered online to a panel composed of Eleventh Circuit Judges William H. Pryor Jr., Jill A. Pryor, and Ed Carnes (audio here).

In earlier proceedings both the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed that the Clinic’s client – whom Cuban police had detained and beaten repeatedly over two years in an effort to prevent him from protesting the Cuban government – was “thoroughly credible.”  They further agreed that his mistreatment, though “severe and regrettable,” did not rise to the level of “persecution,” and that he had no reasonable fear of future persecution.

Conkel’s argument sought reversal of the resulting denials of asylum and withholding of removal. Georgia Law 3L Sarah Nelson helped Conkel prepare for the argument, and several other students helped the Clinic brief the case. 

The Eleventh Circuit panel is now deliberating.

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