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The One Where Seth Blows the Doors off the Courthouse

rocky460.jpg And so: Seth and I triumphantly return from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seemingly assured victory; actually, Seth is doing most of the triumphantness - he’s got a real job, so I’m his proxy, which means I can speak on behalf of him without modesty. Dude rocked it komodo-dragon style.

First, the Ninth Circuit courthouse in Pasadena is, like, the nicest court house in all of these lands - situated in a residential area, it’d be easy to mistake it for a rich dude’s house were it not for the parking lot sign that warns, “Do not fuck with us; we have camera controlled firearms aimed at your head” (or something like that).

Seth was third on the docket, but his case came up sooner, because the lawyer for defense in the second case failed to appear, and a call revealed that the lady had decided to go on vacation this week. I have no idea what kind of massive fuck-up forgets to show up to an appellate hearing in the Ninth Circuit, but if she has a boss, she probably doesn’t anymore. Sheesh.

Anyway, Seth stepped up, introduced himself, and basically rocked the foundation of the courthouse with his eloquence. Truthfully, though: He was good, really fucking good. He never missed a beat, and even when the three-judge panel tried to knock him back, he stood firm, conceded points where it was wise to do so and confidently, vociferously argued his stronger points (of which there were many), and definitely came out on top on the central issue of the case. Unfortunately, his client’s first lawyer was an absolute bonehead, and the judges said as much (“There are a lot of bad immigration lawyers, but this guy is even worse.”). Government counsel didn’t fare as well, but to be fair, she was saddled with a lousy case and some embarrassingly awful government talking points - for a few minutes, the panel nailed her to the wall and watched her wriggle. She withstood it as best as to be expected.

By the end, a few things had become fairly clear: 1) There are a lot of really bad immigration lawyers, who in turn leave a huge mess for the clearly superior appellate lawyers; 2) By and large, the immigration law judges bend over backwards to deny asylum petitions - they will use any excuse they can find to send folks back to their homeland, persecution be damned. And 3) the Ninth Circuit (or at least this panel) seems to recognize what’s going on, and they seem to looking for a good excuse to grant those petitions for asylum. And it was apparent that Seth had provided that good excuse.

The opinion probably won’t be out for a few weeks or months, but based on how the hearing went, there was about an 80 percent chance Seth won. And even if he somehow doesn’t, dude looked like he belonged behind the podium. It was really cool to watch.

| Comments (18)


Way to go, Seth!

Yay! I knew someone who had a not-so-great experience with the same court. He said he knew he was pretty screwed when a couple of the judges just sat back in their seats and nodded off...

Well done Seth!

This is going to sound mushy, but you guys are totally an inspiration to me.

Seth, we are so proud. But, I must know, did you manage to work "fuckton" into your oral argument? Based on my experience with immigration law judges, it would have many applications.

Either way, you are my 9th Circuit hero!


Those Kimono Dragons are indeed tough with their long dresses and bows. They pwn those weak ass komodo dragons.

Noted and corrected. Blurgh. I'm not a very smart man. - DR

Good job Seth! And thanks for the reporting, Dustin. Hope y'all take the rest of the day off and get drunk.

Wow. Lawyers aren't all evil. I feel a little misty now. Big ups, Seth.


As an attorney practicing exclusively immigration and nationality law, I agree completely with everything in this post. Unfortunately, I practice in the Fifth Circuit, which is nowhere near as immigrant-friendly as the Ninth is.

Congrats! Sounds like it went exceptionally well. Good luck getting the opinion quickly - appellate courts can take forever in rendering an opinion.

Crap. He was glib before. Now he'll be insufferable.

Congratulations Seth!

Way to go Seth!! Still, though, wouldn't it have been cooler to spend your life at a desk and sometimes on beautiful mountain peaks peering into the Universe?? - nah, I think arguing in front of the ninth circuit sounds much cooler.

Congrats Seth!


Congratulations, Seth! That is totally kick-ass. It's nice to know there are those succeeding at fighting for good.

Impressive Seth. Very impressive. Somthing to tell the kids. My father always talks about a preliminary hearing in front of Justice Burger (my parebts moved out of the country before the case went in front of the Supremes).

Curious if you managed to refer to the previous attorney as a nutsack during the arguments?

Also, as a serious question (uncalled for I know) but whta sort of law does Seth practice? Immigration? Appeals work?

Hundreds of champagne corks are popping!! I couldn't wait to get to the office to read what happened!! Congrats!