Monday, December 18, 2017

Song v. Sessions (9th Cir. - Dec. 18, 2017)

We haven't seen much from the Ninth Circuit lately.  Basically one published opinion a day for the past week.

Of course, it's the (extended) holidays, so that's not all that surprising.  And there have certainly been some recent distractions as well.  Some natural.  Some less so.

Regardless, work goes on.

I usually don't read the syllabus of Ninth Circuit opinions.  Ruins the story for me, and I'm going to read the case anyway, so don't need it.

But today I did.  Maybe (in part) because the syllabus was so short.  It said, in its entirety:

"The panel granted a petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ denial of asylum to a citizen of China who sought relief based on his political opinion. The panel held that the evidence compelled the conclusion that the Chinese government imputed an anti-eminent domain opinion to petitioner, and persecuted him for that opinion. The panel vacated the denial of asylum relief, and remanded for the Attorney General to exercise his discretion whether to grant asylum."

That's pretty brief.  And maybe, as described, a little surprising.  We reverse the decision below and grant asylum just because the person had "an anti-eminent domain opinion" that the Chinese didn't like?  Seems much less substantial than a lot of cases in which we routinely affirm the denial of asylum.

But then I read the case.  Yes, he had an "anti-eminent domain opinion" and was "persecuted" for those beliefs.  But there was a lot more there than what I imagined from reading the syllabus.

In particular:

"Song received a letter from the local government on August 5, 2009, that the demolition would proceed. Song continued his protest of the forced demolition by hanging a banner from his unit expressing his opposition. The banner stated that Song would rather die than give up his property. Song also moved his belongings into and began sleeping in one of the upstairs residential apartments, then vacated by its tenants because of the demolition notice.

Twelve days later, Song was arrested. Two police officers entered the apartment, overpowered his efforts to resist, and took Song to a detention center. He was charged with interfering with official duties. During the three days Song was jailed, police tortured and beat him, and encouraged his cell mates to do the same. Song was forced to spend an entire night in a squatting position. , , ,

Prison officials accused Song of being “antigovernment,” “subvert[ing] the government,” and “preventing the [government] official from doing official duties.” They tried to get Song to confess to the same. When Song refused, police beat him with a baton and electric baton until he passed out. Song suffered multiple injuries from the beatings, to the point that he was unable to walk."

Uh, yeah.  That's pretty darn serious.  Now I see why he gets asylum.