Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Kwong v. Holder (9th Cir. - Dec. 7, 2011)

How long does it take to write a unanimous, eleven-page panel opinion denying a petition for review in an immigration case.

Seven years.

Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration.  The petition was indeed filed in early 2004.  But it didn't get argued until early 2008.  So that's four years right there.  So one might say that it takes only three to four years for the panel to write those ten pages.

Though, even then, four years to get a case to oral argument seems mighty long itself.  Wholly apart from the three-plus years it then takes to write an opinion.

What took so long?  Looking at the docket, I can't explain the first four years.  Sure, there are the usual requests for extension of time.  Because goodness knows you can't prepare a brief in less than six months, right?  But the case is fully briefed in 2005.  And gets set for oral argument in 2006.  At which point Kwong asks to delay the oral argument, a request that's granted, and it takes another two years before the new oral argument date transpires.  Not exactly a rush to justice.

Then, as the panel opinion itself explains, the panel twice vacates the submission pending two different en banc matters.  There's your additional nearly-four years.  That eventually results in an opinion issued on the seventieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

The result.  Unanimously affirmed.

So Kwong's going to be deported.  But fear not.  It may have taken seven years to reject his Ninth Circuit appeal.  But the Ninth Circuit gave him a stay during this entire period.  So he's had seven additional years in the United States.  For a total of fourteen years since his 1997 conviction for an aggravated felony.

Not exactly speedy, eh?