Ridore v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 10-03-2012
  • Case #: 08-71379
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court, Circuit Judge Rawlinson and District Judge Wu.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Board of Immigration Appeals cannot disregard an Immigration Judge’s factual findings and substitute its own view of the facts. The BIA must either find clear error in the IJ’s factfinding, with an explanation of why; or, if critical facts are missing, it may remand to the IJ.

Jean Baptiste Ridore sought review of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) vacating an immigration judge’s (IJ) grant of protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and cancellation of removal. Throughout the proceeding the IJ made numerous factual findings. On appeal the BIA vacated the IJ’s decision despite his fact-based findings, concluding that, though prison conditions in Haiti are dreadful, “the deportee had not carried his burden of showing they met the definition of torture under CAT.” In this case, the Court found the BIA’s failure to address the majority of the IJ’s specific factual findings; failure to discuss the evidence underlying those finding; lack of mention of Ridore’s expert witness, “upon whom the IJ extensively relied;” and over reliance on facts laid out in precedential cases; cumulatively had “[t]he net effect of … apply[ing] an overall de novo review.” Specifically, the Court stated, “The BIA cannot, under a clear error standard of review, override or disregard evidence in the record and substitute its own version of reality.” By making “conclusory pronouncements,” based on its own interpretation of the facts, without revealing any errors made by the IJ, the BIA’s opinion strayed from “clear error” review. The Court summarized the numerous errors the BIA made by stating, “throughout its CAT ruling the BIA failed to grapple with the evidentiary record in this case and to specifically address any clear errors the IJ made in his factual findings based on that evidence…” This Court held that the BIA applied the correct standard as to the cancellation of removal, but that the BIA “committed legal error in vacating the IJ’s decision with respect to the CAT protection claim,” and remanded to the BIA “to review the IJ’s CAT findings applying the clear error standard.” Petition for Review GRANTED and REMANDED.

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