On April 13, 2015, Hastings Appellate Project 3Ls Gregory Michael and Dorothy Yamamoto appeared at the Ninth Circuit to argue their pro bono case, Medina Nunez v. Holder, Case No. 14-70657.
Yamamoto delivered the argument before Ninth Circuit Judges Alex Kozinski and Susan Graber and visiting Massachusetts District Court Judge Michael Ponsor.
The case presents the novel issue of whether California’s crime of reckless evasion of a police officer is categorically a crime involving moral turpitude for purposes of federal immigration proceedings. The client, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., was convicted of evading a police officer when he continued to drive to his home after officers evidently tried to stop him for having a cracked windshield. At the appellate oral argument, Yamamoto emphasized the relevant California statute’s unusual and non-traditional statutory definition of “willful and wanton disregard,” which did not require the jury to find the kind of “evil intent” that would justify removing the client from the country and his family under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
Hastings Appellate Project students are supervised by Gary Watt ‘97, Director of HAP and a partner and appellate specialist with Archer Norris, and Stephen Tollafield ’02, Associate Director of the UC Hastings Legal Writing and Moot Court Department. Now in its sixth year, HAP students provide pro bono appellate representation to indigent litigants who face sophisticated and novel legal issues that impact underrepresented and low-income communities across the country.
The case is currently submitted for decision by the court. Stay tuned for updates.