Articles Posted in U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

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In 1994, two surface-to-air missiles brought down an aircraft carrying then Rwandan and Burundi Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, both of Hutu ethnicity. The killings fueled the Rwandan genocide, which spread violence across East Central Africa and killed millions of innocent victims. Some believe the then Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front headed by current Rwandan President Paul Kagame was behind the killings. The widows of the two former heads-of-state, Madame Habyarimana and Madame Ntaryamira, blamed President Kagame for their husbands' deaths. They filed suit in Oklahoma federal court seeking to hold him liable under the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Torture Act, the Racketeeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, and multiple state and international laws. During the pendency of this case in the district court, the United States, at the request of the Rwandan Government, submitted a "Suggestion of Immunity" on behalf of President Kagame. The Tenth Circuit upheld the district court in dismissing this case due to President Kagame's immunity: "[quoting case law precedent] 'the precedents are overwhelming. For more than 160 years American courts have consistently applied the doctrine of sovereign immunity when requested to do so by the executive branch. Moreover, they have done so with no further review of the executive's determination.' Simply stated, '[i]t is . . . not for the courts to deny an immunity which our government has seen fit to allow.'" View "Habyarimana v. Kagame" on Justia Law

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Petitioner-Appellant Jesus Hector Palma-Salazar was indicted in 1995 for conspiracy to distribute cocaine; he was arrested in Mexico in 2002. After he was extradited to the United States pursuant to an extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico, Petitioner pled guilty and began serving his sentence. In 2010, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging his confinement at the Administrative Maximum Prison in Florence, Colorado (ADX). He alleged his confinement at ADX violated his Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights and also the extradition treaty. The district court denied his petition. It concluded it lacked jurisdiction to consider his Fifth and Eighth Amendment claims because they were challenges to the conditions of his confinement and must, therefore, be brought under "Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics," (403 U.S. 388 (1971)). It also concluded Petitioner's confinement at ADX did not violate the extradition treaty. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion. View "Palma-Salazar v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Respondent Alena Berridge relocated to Denver, Colorado from the Czech Republic with her two children. Subsequently, Petitioner Max Joseph Lesler, Respondent’s ex-husband and father of the children, filed a petition seeking return of the children to the Czech Republic pursuant to the Hague Convention and ICARA. In this appeal, the issue before the Tenth Circuit was whether the Court could grant any meaningful relief when the district court granted a petition for the return of children based not on a finding of wrongful removal, but instead on the parents' stipulation that the children would return to the country of habitual residence for a custody hearing. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit held this action was moot, resting on the fact that the district court made no finding of wrongful removal, and not on the basis of the children's then-current location. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed and the district court's opinion was vacated. The case was remanded for dismissal due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Leser v. Berridge" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Air Century, SA relied on diversity jurisdiction when it sued Defendant-Appellee Atlantque Air Assitance and Insured Aircraft Title Services, Inc. (IATS) for breach of contract in district court. Unfortunately, the legal authority Plaintiff used did not provide jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the parties stiputated to the existence of diversity jurisdiction. Instead of challenging diversity, Atlantique sought and was awarded dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. Air Century stipulated to the dismissal with prejudice of its claims against IATS and then appealed the dismissal of its claims against Atlantique. "Belatedly noticing the diversity issue early in the appeal," Atlantique moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. In response, Air Century conceded that the district court had never had subject-matter jurisdiction. It requested that the Tenth Circuit: (1) vacate the district court’s order dismissing Atlantique for lack of personal jurisdiction and (2) dismiss this appeal. Under the circumstances, the district court had no power to rule on any substantive motions or to enter judgment in the case. Accordingly, the Tenth Circuit denied the motion to dismiss the appeal, and vacated the district court's orders. The case was remanded to the district court with instructions for the court to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Air Century SA v. Atlantique Air, et al" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Gong Geng Chen petitioned the Tenth Circuit to review a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that denied his motion to reopen as untimely. Petitioner n is a native and citizen of the People’s Republic of China. He illegally entered the United States in April 1993. In August of that same year he filed an asylum application in which he asserted that he had been persecuted because of his religious beliefs. Removal proceedings were initiated. After conceding removability, he filed for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. On appeal, Petitioner asked the BIA to remand his case to the IJ to consider the impact of worsening conditions for members of unofficial churches in China. In January 2010, more than ninety days following the BIA’s order dismissing his appeal and denying his motion to remand, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen. He acknowledged the untimeliness of the motion, but argued that the time restriction did not apply because of changes in his personal circumstances and in country conditions. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit found that reports and other evidence proffered did not support Petitioner's contention that material changes in country conditions warranted asylum. Accordingly, the Court determined the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying Petitioner's motion to reopen as untimely, and denied his petition. View "Chen v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Ferdinand De Leon appealed a district court’s judgment entered in favor of Defendant Denman Investment Corporation, Inc. Plaintiff represents a class of over 9500 people who brought human rights claims against the former president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. In 1995, the class obtained a $2 billion judgment in the federal district court of Hawai'i. Several years later, the class registered the judgment in the federal district court in Illinois in an attempt to enforce it. The judgment was revived in 2008 and remains in effect until 2017 under Illinois law. Plaintiff then registered the Illinois revival in federal district court in Colorado. While ancillary lawsuits proceeded, Plaintiff filed a putative class action in 2009, seeking to enforce the Illinois judgment in Colorado against property that Defendant owned nominally for the benefit of the Marcos estate. Defendant moved to dismiss the Colorado suit, contending that, among other things, the Illinois judgement was unenforceable in Colorado. The Colorado court denied Defendant's motion, denied a motion to certify the class, and dismissed the sole claim against the Marcoses. But while that motion to dismiss was pending, Plaintiff filed an "advice of settlement" indicating that the parties reached a settlement-in-principle in this suit and the ancillary suit. Later that year, the district court entered its orders. Of import here was the court's finding that the Illinois judgment could not be re-registered in Colorado, and therefore, Plaintiff lacked standing to enforce the judgment. Plaintiff moved to vacate or modify the court's decision in light of the advice of settlement. Defendant responded by filing a notice of its intent not to participate in the appeal, stating that it had settled all claims with the class members. Upon careful consideration of the legal authority and the lengthy court record of this case, the Tenth Circuit concluded that language in the settlement stipulating that once the settlement agreement was executed the parties would dismiss their pending lawsuit controlled in this case. The Court concluded that the district court should have "treated the stipulation as a self-executing dismissal;" Accordingly, the district court's granting of Defendant's motion to dismiss on the merits was void because it was issued after the stipulation was filed and therefore in the absence of jurisdiction." The Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case with directions to the lower court to dismiss the entire action with prejudice. View "De Leon v. Marcos, et al" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Sushma KC sought review of a Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) denial of her motion to reopen or reconsider its previous decision denying her asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). After arriving in this country, KC filed timely applications for asylum, but on June 23, 2008, an immigration judge (IJ) denied her applications, and ordered her to voluntarily depart or be removed to her native Nepal. In his oral decision, the IJ noted the threats she received: "the most recent and graphic of them was that her head would be cut off [by Maoist insurgents] unless she paid 300,000 rupees." The IJ concluded, however, that KC failed to satisfy the "one central reason" test (see 8 U.S.C. 1158(b)(1)(B)(i)) which required showing that one of the central reasons the Maoists targeted her was because of her political beliefs. KC appealed to the BIA, which upheld the IJ’s decision. The BIA concluded that "[t]he Immigration Judge reasonably determined based on the record as a whole that the Maoists’ demands for money were acts of extortion not related to the respondent’s political opinion." In addition, the BIA denied KC’s motion to remand her case to the IJ so that he could consider additional evidence concerning her husband’s disappearance. Because the BIA adopted the IJ’s analysis without further explanation, both to dismiss KC’s appeal and to deny reconsideration, the Tenth Circuit held that the BIA’s decision lacked "rational explanation." Accordingly, the Court held that the BIA abused its discretion, and remanded the case for further consideration. The Court affirmed the BIA in all other respects. View "KC v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

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Israeli citizens Arturas Bakanovas, Edita Bakanovas, and their daughter, Karolina Bakanovas, sought review of an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that denied their motion to reopen. In 1990 Arturas and Edita Bakanovas emigrated from Lithuania to Israel and became Israeli citizens. In 1991 they entered the United States on visitor visas and, after they overstayed their visas and the Immigration and Nationalization Service issued orders to show cause why they should not be deported, Arturas applied for asylum. The asylum application stated that Arturas had suffered persecution in Israel because of his Catholic faith and Lithuanian origin, that Edita had suffered persecution in Lithuania because of her Jewish faith, and that they both suffered persecution in Israel because of their interfaith marriage. In 1994 an immigration judge denied the Bakanovases asylum and withholding of deportation but granted their request for voluntary departure, with an alternate order of deportation to Israel or Lithuania if they remained in the United States after the voluntary-departure deadline. In October 2000 the BIA affirmed the order, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed that decision. The Bakanovases did not leave the United States, and in January 2007 they were arrested on immigration charges and released on bond. They then met with their current attorney, who informed them in April 2007 of the availability of relief under the Convention Against Torture. In March 2010, almost three years later, they filed a motion to reopen with the BIA, which the BIA denied. They petitioned the Tenth Circuit to review that decision. Because the denial of a motion to reopen is "a final, separately appealable order," the Tenth Circuit lacked jurisdiction to review the case. The Court dismissed Petitioners' appeal. View "Bakanovas v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law