October 19, 2023
On August 30, 2023, Judge Leo A. Finston of the Newark Immigration Court granted asylum to a Cravath pro bono client persecuted by gang members in El Salvador.
Cravath’s client overheard the murder of his neighbors by a Salvadoran gang and, fearing retaliation from the gang, subsequently refused to provide police with information. Even so, he was repeatedly attacked and continued to receive threats to “cooperate with the gang.” He fled El Salvador and arrived at the Texas border in December 2017, turning himself in to United States immigration officials and requesting asylum. He was detained, and Human Rights First represented him before the Immigration Court in Newark, New Jersey.
In September 2018, Judge Finston denied the application for asylum, finding that, while the man was credible and had suffered PTSD from the events in El Salvador, “complaining witnesses against major Salvadoran gangs” were not a “particular social group” for purposes of asylum, and there was not sufficient probability that he would be tortured upon his return to El Salvador. In March 2019, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed the initial appeal. Cravath became involved at this stage, briefing and arguing the appeal before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
On April 17, 2020, the Third Circuit issued a precedential opinion (see related news item here) granting the client’s petition for review, vacating the BIA’s removal order and remanding the case to the BIA for further proceedings. The Court held that “persons who publicly provide assistance against major Salvadoran gangs do constitute a particular social group” for purposes of asylum, and that the BIA erred in denying relief under the Convention Against Torture, finding that “it is clear to us, viewing the record as a whole, that [he] suffered torture”. The Court remanded the case to the BIA, and in December 2021, the BIA remanded the matter to the Newark Immigration Court for further proceedings.
By that time, Cravath’s client was living in hiding in El Salvador, and the Cravath team spent the next year and a half trying to secure his return for a new merits hearing, consistent with the Third Circuit’s opinion.
On July 20, 2023, at a Master Calendar Hearing before Judge Finston, the Cravath team argued the man had a meritorious case and constitutional due process and statutory rights to be present at his merits hearing, but the Department of Homeland Security took the position that it had no obligation to allow him to return. On August 30, 2023, the Cravath team appeared on the client’s behalf at a second Master Calendar Hearing, where Judge Finston found that, in light of the Third Circuit’s opinion and based on the record before him, it was clear the man qualified for asylum and no further proceedings were necessary.
The Cravath team was led by partner Wes Earnhardt and included associates Brian P. Golger and Ana C. Sewell.
Deals & Cases
October 12, 2023
On October 4, 2023, an immigration judge (IJ) granted asylum to Cravath pro bono client Johanna R., a transgender woman from El Salvador who had been abused by gang members based on her identity.
Deals & Cases
September 21, 2023
On September 19, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a district court’s order denying class certification to all children who are or will be in the custody of New York City’s foster care system. Cravath, working on a pro bono basis, represents the putative class alongside co‑counsel at A Better Childhood (“ABC”).
Deals & Cases
August 23, 2023
On July 31, 2023, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Joshua Stewart, who argued that he had been convicted based on a post‑arrest confession obtained as a result of deceptive police interrogation tactics. Cravath, working on a pro bono basis, submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Innocence Project in support of Mr. Stewart’s appeal.
Deals & Cases
June 27, 2023
On May 15, 2023, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (“DHS”) implemented a policy change, DHS‑PB‑2023‑006, altering the eligibility process for families seeking to stay in homeless shelters and ensuring such families are not turned away from shelter in a time of need. Cravath, working on a pro bono basis, partnered with the New York Legal Assistance Group to help secure this change, which followed a formal complaint, a demand letter shared with New York City and State officials and years of negotiation.
Celebrating 200 years of partnership. In 2019, we celebrated our bicentennial. Our history mirrors that of our nation. Integral to our story is our culture.