Cases & Deals

Immigrant obtains Ninth Circuit decision holding that written perjury under California Penal Code § 118 does not involve moral turpitude

Client(s) MR

On March 10, 2016, The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") decision adverse to Jones Day client MR, a citizen of El Salvador. In a published opinion, the Court held that MR's conviction for perjury under California Penal Code § 118(a) is not a categorical Crime Involving Moral Turpitude ("CIMT") and therefore MR was not, as the immigration court and BIA had ruled, ineligible for cancellation of removal from the United States.

Jones Day represented MR, husband to a lawful permanent resident wife and father of a U.S. citizen son, in his appeal of this issue of first impression in the Ninth Circuit. The Firm successfully argued that the BIA erred in its decision that MR's conviction for written perjury under California Penal Code § 118 was a categorical CIMT. After oral argument and supplemental briefing, the court found that Section 118 was divisible insofar as it criminalized both written and oral perjury. The Court found that written perjury under Section 118 was not a categorical CIMT because it was significantly broader than the common law crime of perjury and did not categorically involve fraud. Therefore, the court ruled, MR's conviction did not bar his request for cancellation of removal.

Accordingly, the court granted MR's petition, vacated the BIA's decision, and remanded for further proceedings.

Rivera v. Lynch, No. 12-72668 (9th Cir.)