Coquico v. Lynch

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 06-17-2015
  • Case #: 09-73867
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge O’Scannlain for the Court; Circuit Judges Thomas and McKeown
  • Full Text Opinion

To determine if a crime involves moral turpitude that would support an alien's removal, courts will compare the elements of the crime in question to elements of crimes already found to be crimes involving moral turpitude.

John Coquico is a citizen of the Philippines who was first convicted of violating California Penal Code (“Cal. Penal Code”) § 417.26 after using a laser pointer in an Alameda County courthouse hallway. He was then convicted of second-degree robbery a year later. Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationalities Act, the Department of Homeland Security sought Coquico’s removal based on Coquico’s two convictions of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (“CIMT”). The Immigration Judge (“IJ”) found initially and on remand that Coquico was removable. Coquico appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) who denied the appeal, agreeing with the IJ that both crimes were CIMTs. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit disagreed, holding that the unlawful use of a laser did not qualify as a CIMT. To determine if Cal. Penal Code § 417.26 was a CIMT, the panel compared the elements of said statute with the elements of a crime already determined to be a CIMT. After making the comparison, the panel determined that Cal. Penal Code § 417.26 had more similarities to non-turpitudinous crimes than it did to the CIMT that is was compared to. Therefore, Cal. Penal Code § 417.26 did not meet the categorial definition of a CIMT. PETITION FOR REVIEW GRANTED; REMANDED.

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