Cases & Deals

After a trial, appeal, and then retrial, a full asylum victory is obtained

Client(s) Client S

In January of 2009, working with Casa Cornelia Law Center, associate Kelly O'Donnell of Jones Day San Diego began representing Client S, a Somali national, in asylum proceedings. After an initial trial, appeal, and then retrial, a full victory was obtained for our client.

Client S was born in 1989 in Mogadishu, Somalia. He and his family belonged to a small, powerless minority clan, causing them to experience constant persecution at the hands of the heavily armed majority clan militias that exercised de facto control of the country after the fall of the Somali government. As a young child, our client experienced harassment, including death threats. His father and brother were shot to death by majority clan members who confiscated the family farm. After that, majority clan members forced him and his remaining family members from their home, savagely beating him and his mother with the butts of their rifles and threatening to kill the family if they were ever seen again. Soon after that incident, our client fled Somalia and eventually came to the United States. On September 2008, he presented himself at the border near San Diego to request asylum.

The initial trial of our client's claims occurred in June of 2009. After a day of testimony, documents and argument by both sides, the Immigration Court denied asylum and a related type of relief, but granted a limited form of relief under the Convention Against Torture, finding there was a likelihood he would be tortured if he returned to Somalia. Both sides appealed that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. After appellate proceedings lasting nearly nine months, a three judge panel of the BIA issued a decision vacating the Immigration Court's decision and remanding the case for a new trial.

At the August 26, 2010 retrial, Client S once again testified in support of his claims, providing additional context for the court to understand the severity of the persecution he faced, his fear of being killed if he returned, and the quasi-governmental nature of the armed militias who would persecute him. On September 14, 2010, the Immigration Court issued a decision granting our client's claim for asylum. The government waived appeal, meaning that he will be released forthwith. Speaking to his Jones Day counsel, Mr. O'Donnell, after the decision was announced, Client S described it as "the happiest day of my life."