Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Vukmirovic v. Holder (9th Cir. - April 6, 2011)

It's unusual.  But sometimes a panel changes its mind.

Judge Schroeder wrote a majority opinion last year in which she held that Vukmirovic's in absentia deportation should be reversed for "exceptional circumstances" -- namely, the fact that he was deported because he had changed addresses and thus wasn't notified of the renewed proceedings against him.  Judge Rawlinson dissented.

The United States petitioned for rehearing en banc.  Reading between the lines, there was a decent chance of review being granted.

So, today, the panel reverses itself.  Unanimously.  Holding that there weren't exceptional circumstances and that Vukmirovic didn't have a very good claim on the merits anyway.

Which I'm sure makes Vukmirovic sad.  He thought he got to stay in the United States.  Now he finds out he can't.

But don't cry too much.  Vukmirovic's immigration proceedings have already lasted two decades.  And he's been in the United States the whole time (ever since he fled the former Yugoslavia in 1991).  So while these long-running proceedings are now largely over, they've still got to catch Vukmirovic and send him back.  A task that might not be all that easy.  Especially after 20 years.