Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Minasyan v. Mukasey (9th Cir. - Jan. 20, 2009)

It's a new day. A new president. A new blog format.

Everything old is new again. Let the fun begin.

Meanwhile, back in the appellate world, we get to decide fascinating questions of statutory interpretation. Such as: What's a "year"?

That may facially appear to be an easy question. But, if so, you've obviously not been around enough lawyers. Plus, it's an important one. At least for Mushegh Minasyan, who was statutorily required to file his application for asylum within one year of his arrival in the United States on April 9, 2001 and who filed on April 9, 2002. Is that "within one year of his arrival"? Or one day too late? For him, the answer may make the difference beetween staying in the Land of the Free, on the one hand, and going back to country where military forces allegedly beat him in the face and kidneys for two straight days. In short, it's important.

Judge Berzon concludes -- sensibly, in my view -- that the two April 9ths are within a year. I thought it was interesting that the principal argument in that regard comes from the analogous way we calculate things under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This was my first thought as well, though I'm admittedly a little geeky on procedure stuff. I have a proto-thought about how statutory interpretation principles may be colored by analogies to potentially divergent procedural principles in the context of judicial rules, but I'll leave the point at that. Plus, again, I tend to agree with the result here anyway.

So a year is a year. Good to know.