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Mejia v. Sessions

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 29, 2017

Edwin Eduardo Campos Mejia, Petitioner,
v.
Jefferson B. Sessions III, Attorney General, Respondent.

          Argued and Submitted June 9, 2017 Pasadena, California

         On Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals Agency No. A071-583-259

          Matthew J. Smock (argued) and Amy J. Laurendeau, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Newport Beach, California, for Petitioner.

          Sarah K. Pergolizzi (argued), Trial Attorney; Emily Anne Radford, Assistant Director; Chad A. Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; for Respondent.

          Before: Susan P. Graber and Mary H. Murguia, Circuit Judges, and Edward J. Davila, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY [**]

         Immigration

         The panel granted Edwin Eduardo Campos Mejia's petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' decision dismissing his appeal from an immigration judge's denial of his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture, and concluding that remand to the immigration judge was not warranted for further consideration of Campos Mejia's mental competency.

         The panel held that the immigration judge erred by failing to determine whether procedural safeguards were required after Campos Mejia showed signs of mental incompetency. The panel concluded that under In re M-A-M-, 25 I. & N. Dec. 474, 480 (BIA 2011), there were clear indicia of incompetency that triggered the immigration judge's duty to explain whether Campos Mejia was competent and whether procedural safeguards were needed.

         The panel further held that the Board abused its discretion by failing to explain why it allowed the immigration judge to disregard In re M-A-M-'s rigorous procedural requirements. Accordingly, the panel remanded to the Board with instructions to remand to the immigration judge for a new hearing consistent with In re M-A-M-.

          OPINION

          DAVILA, District Judge

         Petitioner Edwin Eduardo Campos Mejia seeks review of the Board of Immigration Appeals' ("BIA") dismissal of his appeal from the immigration judge's ("IJ") denial of his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT"). Petitioner showed signs of mental incompetency during proceedings before the IJ. Petitioner argues that, under governing BIA precedent, these signs triggered the IJ's duty to determine whether procedural safeguards were needed, but that the IJ failed to do so. We agree. Accordingly, we grant the petition and remand.

         BACKGROUND

         Petitioner, a native of Guatemala, entered the United States without inspection at some point between 1986 and 1991. The Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings in 2004 in a Notice to Appear. Petitioner admitted the factual allegations in the Notice, and the IJ sustained the charge of removability. Petitioner's case was administratively closed for most of the next six years while he served prison ...


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