Students in Georgia Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic win Board of Immigration Appeals case on behalf of asylum-seeker from Russia

Four students in the University of Georgia School of Law Appellate Litigation Clinic have just secured asylum relief for a Russian client, and in so doing earned hands-on experience in practicing law in today’s interconnected world.

The client, Rim Iakovlev, is a Jehovah’s Witness who had fled to the United States after a ruling by the Russian Supreme Court outlawed his religion. A U.S. immigration judge granted his petition for asylum. But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security appealed. It was at this point that the Board of Immigration Appeals, through its pro bono project, appointed Georgia Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic to represent asylum-seeker Iakovlev. The Board is an administrative appellate agency within the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice.

Drafting the brief in the case, under supervision by Professor Thomas V. Burch, Director of the Appellate Litigation Clinic, were four Georgia Law students: 3Ls Wade H. Barron, C. Daniel Lockaby, and Sarah A. Quattrocchi, and 2L Addison Smith. Their brief stressed consistencies in the accounts given by Iakovlev and his wife, and also refuted the DHS contention that the asylum-seeker was obliged to present a letter from his congregation attesting to his status as a Jehovah’s Witness.

Upon reading the parties’ briefs, the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the immigration judge’s decision to grant Iakovlev’s petition for asylum. DHS chose not to appeal the Board’s decision, so that Iakovlev was released from detention last week.