Bondarenko v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 10-25-2013
  • Case #: 08-73972
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judges Pregerson and Nguyen
  • Full Text Opinion

A credibility finding of a person seeking asylum must be supported by substantial evidence, and the person seeking asylum must be given a reasonable opportunity to investigate all evidence presented against them.

Igor Bondarenko is a native and citizen of Russia. He was a student at the state university in Novosibirsk in 2001 and 2002, where he organized an “anti-war, anti-military student group” with other students. While in Russia, Bondarenko had several run-ins with authorities due to his anti-war activities, including numerous beatings. One beating resulted in a three-day hospital visit where a doctor concluded Bondarenko had received “closed skull-brain trauma of temporal area of medium severity.” Upon receiving notice of Bondarenko’s continuing problems with authorities, the dean of his university informed him that he had been expelled. Bondarenko subsequently entered the United States on June 22, 2002, on a J-1 cultural exchange visa and applied for asylum in March 2003, citing the medical document, two summonses from the Russian government, a certificate showing his dismissal from the university, and screen shots of websites for the antiwar organizations with which he worked. The government produced a report that was not shown to Bondarenko or his attorney prior to the hearing. The Immigration Judge (“IJ”) held that Bondarenko’s documents were not authenticated and did not allow him to authenticate them via his own testimony. In addition, the IJ found Bondarenko was not credible and did not allow a continuance for his attorney to review the report produced at the hearing. The IJ noted that even if Bondarenko was credible, the harm he suffered did not rise to the level of persecution. The Ninth Circuit held that the IJ violated due process when he did not allow Bondarenko to review the report presented by the government and held that the harm suffered did, in fact, rise to the level of persecution. PETITION GRANTED and REMANDED.

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