The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the appeal of a drug possession case handled by a team of attorneys from the Law Center’s Immigration Clinic. Two former clinic attorneys – Anne Chandler ’98 and Tom Perkinson ’00 – assisted as the case worked its way through the lower courts. “It is very, very rare for a law clinic to be involved in a Supreme Court case – and it’s an honor to be a part of it,” said Geoffrey A. Hoffman, who directs the Immigration Clinic. Hoffman will serve as co-counsel on the case along with Sri Srinivasan of the international firm of O’Melveny & Myers, assisted by Law Center students in the Immigration Clinic.
The court should hear arguments in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder and issue its decision sometime before the end of its current term in June 2010. At issue: whether courts can view a second or subsequent drug possession offense (a federal misdemeanor) as a drug trafficking aggravated felony. Appeals on this issue were previously argued before the 5th and 7th Circuits, which found that virtually any second or subsequent state possession conviction may be deemed an aggravated felony for immigration purposes, as well as for federal criminal sentence enhancement purposes.
"This case has the potential to impact the lives of thousands of immigrants and immigration detainees throughout the country,” Hoffman said. “As we have argued, the fact that an 'aggravated felony' can be found to exist where someone has two minor drug possession convictions, as in our client's case, is an incorrect and unfair interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act."