Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Supreme Court allows appeals of immigrants in mishandled cases

California immigrants may encounter challenges when seeking legal assistance in a variety of situations. Language and cultural barriers may make communication difficult, and if a case is handled incorrectly, an immigrant may have little realization of the fact that this has occurred. In some situations, a deportation could even occur because of a legal error. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently ruled that federal appeals courts have the ability to intervene in cases requiring review based on legal errors.

The case resulting in this decision involved a man who pleaded guilty to domestic abuse charges. Because he was undocumented, he faced deportation action after this incident. His immigration attorneys at the time made a clerical error by failing to file the correct documents. He did not become aware of the error until he retained different attorneys. However, the deadline for filing an appeal was missed during this process, leading to the dismissal of the appeal.

Although the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit indicated that it didn't have the jurisdiction to overturn the decision, that was overturned in the 8-1 Supreme Court ruling. This provides a protection for immigrants who may be vulnerable to the behaviors of unethical professionals. Further, it establishes that a case may be reopened if attorney errors can be identified, enabling foreign nationals to seek due process.

If an individual has discovered that legal errors affect their progress on an immigration or deportation matter, it may be important to obtain different representation to correct those errors. In some cases, elapsed time may affect the outcome. However, the recent Supreme Court decision may provide a reason for allowing further action on the matter.

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