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CA6 on Abuse of Discretion, Burden of Proof, and Loss to the Victim: Al-Adily v. Garland

March 31, 2023 (1 min read)

Al-Adily v. Garland (2-1)

"Habib Al-Adily, a citizen of Iraq and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was late in returning his rental car to Thrifty-Rent-a-Car (Thrifty). He was indicted under a Michigan statute criminalizing the willful failure to timely return rental property, an offense to which he pleaded guilty and for which he was ordered to pay over $10,000 in restitution to Thrifty. Two Immigration Judges (IJs) and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) concluded that these circumstances warranted Al-Adily’s deportation for having been convicted of an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). For the reasons set forth below, we GRANT Al-Adily’s petition for review, REVERSE the BIA’s decision, and REMAND to the BIA with instructions to terminate the removal proceedings against him. ... A cursory review of Exhibit A reveals that Thrifty’s actual loss was clearly less than $10,000. And DHS certainly did not meet its burden of proving by “clear and convincing” evidence, see id. (quoting 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(c)(3)(A)), that the loss exceeded that amount. ... Despite admonitions by both the BIA and the Supreme Court that restitution orders must be considered with caution, especially where the restitution amount was initially determined under a lower evidentiary standard, the IJs and the BIA deferred uncritically to the state court’s determination in conflating the restitution amount with Thrifty’s actual loss. In denying Al-Adily’s motion to reconsider notwithstanding this error, the BIA abused its discretion."

[Hats off to Frank G. Becker!]