March 12, 2015

On March 12, 2015, the time ran out for the government to file a petition for certiorari in the case of firm pro bono client Jean Jeudy, leaving stand a Seventh Circuit ruling in favor of Mr. Jeudy that was delivered in September 2014.

Mr. Jeudy is a lawful permanent resident from Haiti who pled guilty to a low-level drug possession charge in 1995.  When Mr. Jeudy pled guilty, he became deportable, but he reasonably expected to become eligible for discretionary relief from deportation, which, at that time, required seven years of lawful residency.  Mr. Jeudy became eligible for such relief in November 1996 and continued living in the United States as a productive member of his community.  Eventually, he applied to become a US citizen, at which time he disclosed that he had unlawfully voted in the 2000 presidential election under the mistaken belief that he was eligible to do so.  As a result, the government attempted to remove him, and the Bureau of Immigration Appeals deemed him ineligible for discretionary relief.  It retroactively applied the “stop-time rule” enacted by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), concluding that this 1996 amendment operated to stop Mr. Jeudy’s seven-year residency clock based on his 1995 guilty plea. 

Mr. Jeudy’s appeal was briefed and argued by Jenner & Block Associate Zachary C. Schauf, with assistance from Partner Lindsay C. Harrison and National Immigrant Justice Center counsel Charles Rothand Lisa Koop.  The Seventh Circuit granted Mr. Jeudy’s petition for review.  The court – adopting the points Mr. Schauf made in the briefs and at oral argument – relied on the “presumption against retroactivity” to hold that the stop-time rule could not apply to Mr. Jeudy’s 1995 guilty plea.  The government petitioned for rehearing, which the court denied in December 2014, and the government elected not to file a petition for certiorari in the US Supreme Court by the deadline of March 12, 2015.  

Subsequently, the Fourth Circuit has relied upon the Seventh Circuit’s decision to hold that the stop-time rule could not apply retroactively to a pre-IIRIRA offense.  The precedent therefore opens an important avenue for immigrants to obtain relief from removal.