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Court rules asylum seeker wasn't allowed to tell whole story

PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in California has ruled that a Nigerian man wasn't allowed to tell his whole story before being ordered to leave the country.

Olakunle Oshodi, who said he escaped persecution by the Nigerian government, applied too late for U.S. asylum and an immigration judge denied his petition for withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture, Courthouse News reported.

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A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit affirmed the decision but the full appellate court later agreed to reconsider his case.

The 11-judge panel, with three judges dissenting, found the immigration judge had improperly cut short Oshodi's oral testimony when it told him not to repeat evidence already included in his written declaration.

Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Paez said by precluding Oshodi from testifying about the critical events in his application, the immigration judge short-circuited his own ability to accurately judge Oshodi's credibility.

The ruling inspired a difference of opinion about the role of oral testimony in administrative hearings.

In a scorching dissent, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski warned the decision would change the nature of all administrative hearings.

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Kosinski said the ruling would impair the ability of immigration judges to manage their crushing caseloads.

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