Young v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 09-17-2012
  • Case #: 07-70949
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: En Banc; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Circuit Judge B. Fletcher; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Circuit Judge Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the modified categorical approach, a guilty plea to a conjunctive count that alleges several theories of a crime establishes a conviction under at least one theory, but not necessarily all, of those theories. Further, “[a]n alien cannot carry the burden of demonstrating eligibility for cancellation of removal by merely establishing that the relevant record of conviction is inconclusive as to whether the conviction is for an aggravated felony.”

Joseph Young, a permanent resident of the United States, sought review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) decision holding that Young was a convicted aggravated felon, and thus ineligible for cancellation of removal. In 2005, Young pleaded guilty to a conjunctively phrased charge of “Sale/Transportation/Offer to Sell” cocaine. Young received a Notice to Appear for removability for being an alien convicted of an offense of a controlled substance and of an aggravated felony related to a controlled substance. The Immigration Judge held Young removable on both grounds, and specifically determined that Young’s guilty plea was an admission of each and every element, making him an aggravated felon and ineligible for cancellation of removal. The BIA affirmed these findings, and Young petitioned for review. The Court held that it lacked jurisdiction over Young’s claim that he was not convicted of a controlled substance offense, because the claim was never presented to the BIA. The Court also held that the modified categorical approach was appropriate and that, by using this approach, Young’s record was inconclusive as to whether he was an aggravated felon. This was so because a guilty plea to a conjunctive count that alleges several theories of a crime establishes a conviction under at least one, but does not constitute an admission to all of those theories. Finally, the Court held that Young did not carry the burden of demonstrating his eligibility for removal simply by establishing that his record of conviction was inconclusive as to whether he was an aggravated felon. Notably, the Court overruled Sandoval-Lua v. Gonzales and Rosa-Castaneda v. Holder to the extent that the cases conflict with this holding. Petition DISMISSED in part, DENIED in part.

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