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"We Saved Three Lives Today" Another Asylum Victory by Immigration and Human Rights Clinic!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
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Washington, DC  -  Belated congratulations to UDC Law Immigration and Human Rights Clinic students Liana Montecinos and Jarlens Princilis, Professors Lindsay Harris and Kristina Campbell - and all others involved in this case, which was successfully tried before our alum, immigration judge Robert "Bobby" Owens, Antioch School of Law, Class of 1978 earlier this month.

Students Liana Montecinos and Jarlens Princilis with Prof. Kristina Campbell

Above left, Liana Montecinos and Jarlens Princilis, above right, Prof. Kristina Campbell, Liana and Jarlens.

From a  Facebook post by Liana Montecinos:

"I intended to post this earlier, but I felt as sleep in my car just when I managed to get to the parking lot because I was on 1 hour of sleep for trial this morning.

We had trial today at the Arlington Immigration Court after 5 intense months studying at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and devoting over 400 hours of arduous work to meeting with our client to produce a 35–page detailed declaration; reading and mastering so much case law to craft a 61-page memorandum of law; reviewing, researching, and compiling 755 pages of corroborating evidence; submitting several motions; consulting with various country condition experts; preparing our client for trial; trying to negotiate with the trial attorney; and in general pulling so many all-nighters because 24 hours each day were not enough to do this work and to balance my competing obligations as a Senior Paralegal at Benach Collopy LLP, my work as Executive Director at USJ, and my other law school classes.

Today at trial, I felt nervous, anxious, and pressured because there was no room for mistakes and no room for my insecurities. Failure was not an option. Despite so much work and preparation on our end for such a complicated case, the trial attorney was unreasonably fighting us on everything she could and unwilling to narrow the 5 protected grounds we offered for our client to obtain relief. But, we fought back on every allegation and we objected to the trial attorney on several occasions.

On cross examination, my partner Jarlens Princilis and I were flipping through our evidence, taking notes, and rehashing our legal arguments while reading sticky notes from our professor, Kristina Campbell and listening to hints from Professor Harris. My heart was beating so fast, but my face was calm because I needed to rehabilitate our client on redirect. But the pressure was intense.

The trial attorney kept confusing the facts of our client’s story on cross examination, challenging our client’s credibility for not including all details of her past trauma in the 2-hour Credible Fear Interview she had when she first entered the U.S. But, our client is a highly intelligent and brave Honduran woman, who eloquently explained to the Court the due process rights violations she experienced during the Credible Fear Interview.

After about 3 hours of non-stop heart racing, the Judge, Antioch School of Law graduate, Robert Owens, found our client credible and granted her asylum in the U.S. based on her membership in two gender-based particular social groups (Matter of A-R-C-G).

This was the first time I lost my professionalism and I cried at court while a judge delivered a decision. I could not help it. So much hard work had successfully come to fruition and most importantly as our client stated to the Court, “We saved three lives today.”

This was the first time my partner Jarlens and I represented a client in a merits hearing and I must add that the experience the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Immigration and Human Rights Clinic gave me this semester, is the experience I was looking for in law school.

Thank you Professor Campbell for believing in me, choosing me for this complicated yet rewarding work, and for your guidance. Thank you to my partner Jarlens Princilis for endless team work and for your individual hard work. Thank you Professor Harris for your guidance and support. Thank you to the previous students in the clinic who also worked really hard on this case."

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