A four-year trek from the Fourth Circuit to the U.S. Supreme Court, back to the Fourth Circuit and then back to the Immigration Court ended on this day in 2011 when Jenner & Block pro bono client Jean Marc Nken was granted asylum. A native of Cameroon, Mr. Nken fled in 2001 after having been jailed and tortured by the Cameroonian government for his participation in pro-democracy protests. He lost his initial asylum case and several unsuccessful appeals and was set to be deported when Jenner & Block Partner Lindsay C. Harrison took on his case. Lindsay identified a split among the circuits on the standard applied to obtain a stay in these matters, and the Jenner & Block team sought and obtained certiorari at the Supreme Court. An associate at the time, Lindsay argued the case in the Supreme Court in 2009. In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that the traditional standard for a stay motion should apply to immigration appeals rather than the more stringent standard that had been adopted by several circuit courts. The precedent helped thousands of asylum-seekers to remain in the United States while their appeals are pending as long as they have a likelihood of success and a risk of harm if deported. After the U.S. Supreme Court victory, the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Bureau of Immigration Appeals had erred and remanded the case to the BIA, giving Mr. Nken another chance to obtain asylum. The firm worked countless hours to put together the strongest possible case for Mr. Nken’s eligibility. Lindsay and her team presented Mr. Nken’s case in a contested hearing before an immigration judge. A decade after he fled Cameroon, the judge ruled that Mr. Nken was entitled to asylum, and the government agreed to waive its right to appeal. As a result, Mr. Nken was allowed remain in the United States with his wife and young son.
Back to the Library