Monday, January 28, 2019

Karingithi v. Whitaker (9th Cir. - Jan. 28, 2019)

Serah Karingithi, a native of Kenya, overstayed her six-month tourist visa in 2006.  The United States eventually moved to deport ("remove") her in 2009.  She's been in the United States the whole time, including the resulting decade of various removal proceedings.  All of which have not gone well for Ms. Karingithi.

Given this lengthy history, it would surely be surprising indeed were the Ninth Circuit to have held that all these proceedings were for naught because the paper that notified her of the very first of them (in 2009) contained the location of the place at which she was required to appear and defend herself but listed the date and time as "TBA".  After all, she was informed of that time and date in a separate document, showed up, and also showed up at the plethora of later hearings.  Wouldn't it be crazy if the whole exercise as meaningless due to an alleged notice failure that didn't harm anyone?

Now, I know what you're thinking.  I'm going to say:  "Yet that's exactly what the Ninth Circuit held."

Nope.  The Ninth Circuit went the other way.

Which makes total sense.  To me, anyway.  As well as to the panel.  In the old days, there might be a more robust fight about whether the initial omission deprived the court of "jurisdiction" to hear the underlying removal petition.  But in the last decade or so, the Supreme Court (alongside lower federal courts) have been making foundational principles less and less formalistic.  Very few things are indeed "jurisdictional" anymore.

Today's case is but the latest example.

And, on this front, I'm not exactly shedding a tear.

A practical and common sense result.