Hadir Nannoshi v. Eric Holder, Jr.
OPINION filed: The Petition to Review is DENIED, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Eugene E. Siler , Jr. (authoring); R. Guy Cole , Jr. and Raymond M. Kethledge, Circuit Judges.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION
File Name: 11a0513n.06
ERIC HOLDER, JR., Attorney General
Jul 22, 2011
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
HADIR GORGIS NANNOSHI,
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
PETITION FOR REVIEW OF AN
ORDER OF THE BOARD OF
Before: SILER, COLE, and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.
SILER, Circuit Judge. Hadir Gorgis Nannoshi (“Nannoshi”), native and citizen of Iraq,
petitions for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) order denying his motion to reopen
his removal proceedings. For the following reasons, we DENY the petition.
Nannoshi entered the United States in 1981 as a legal permanent resident (“LPR”). In 1994,
he pled guilty to attempted criminal sexual conduct in the third degree (victim older than thirteen
years of age but less than sixteen) in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 750.92 and 750.520(d).
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) later initiated removal proceedings
against Nannoshi pursuant to Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) §§ 237(a)(2)(A)(iii) and
236(a)(2)(A)(iii), based on his prior conviction of an aggravated felony relating to sexual abuse of
At his initial hearing before the immigration judge (“IJ”), ICE produced Nannoshi’s
conviction record. Nannoshi’s counsel, Brian Casterline, conceded the conviction but denied that
it constituted an aggravated felony. Casterline then requested time to look into whether Nannoshi
was eligible for waiver under former INA § 212(c), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(c) (1994), and the IJ granted
him sixty days to investigate the available relief.
At the second hearing, Nannoshi, through Casterline, applied for cancellation of removal as
an LPR under INA § 240a(b)(1), 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(b)(1), and a waiver of deportability under INA
§ 212(c). Casterline argued that Nannoshi was eligible for a waiver under § 212(c) because he
pleaded guilty to his conviction. The IJ suggested that Casterline further investigate Nannoshi’s
options for relief and read In re Blake, 23 I. & N. Dec. 722 (BIA 2005), which held an LPR ineligible
for a § 212(c) waiver because sexual abuse of a minor was an aggravated felony that had “no
statutory counterpart in section 212(a) grounds of inadmissability.” Id. at 723.
At the third hearing, Nannoshi, through Casterline, sought cancellation of removal as an LPR
under INA § 240a(b)(1); withholding of removal under INA § 241(b)(3); deferral of removal
pursuant to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (“CAT”), 8 C.F.R. § 1208.17; a waiver
of deportability under INA 212(c); and voluntary departure pursuant to INA § 240B(b), 8 U.S.C. §
229c(b). The government contended that Nannoshi was only eligible for deferral under CAT, due
to his conviction for an aggravated felony and the lack of a corresponding charge of inadmissability
pursuant to Blake, 23 I. & N. Dec. 722.
It was not until the fourth hearing that Casterline conceded Nannoshi’s status as an
aggravated felon and his ineligibility for a § 212(c) waiver under Blake. Casterline also conceded
to the government’s position that Nannoshi was only eligible for deferral of removal pursuant to
CAT. He then requested an adjournment to seek eligibility because Nannoshi had been married in
July 2007. The IJ denied the request, because there was no I-30 petition on file and he did not
believe Nannoshi would be eligible for an adjustment of status due to his aggravated felony
conviction. The IJ then heard Nannoshi’s argument for deferral of removal and denied his
On October 17, 2007, Nannoshi, represented by Casterline, appealed the IJ’s decision to the
BIA and stated that he intended to file a separate brief. The BIA gave him until January 2, 2008 to
submit a brief. On January 2, 2008, Casterline requested an additional 21 days to submit the brief,
and his request was granted. On February 13, 2008, ICE counsel filed a motion for summary
dismissal of Nannoshi’s appeal because no brief had been filed with the court. On March 13, 2008,
Nannoshi’s new counsel, Namir Daman, requested a new date to file a brief. On April 7, 2008,
another lawyer from Daman’s firm, Eman Jajonie-Daman, filed a motion to accept a late-filed brief.
On April 18, 2008, the BIA denied the motion to accept the untimely brief, stating that there
was insufficient reason to accept the late brief. See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.3(c)(1). On December 22, 2008,
the BIA summarily dismissed the appeal, noting that the statement provided in the notice of appeal
failed to “meaningfully apprise this Board of the reasons underlying the appeal.”
Nannoshi, again represented by new counsel, filed an untimely motion to reopen with the
BIA claiming that he had received ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel. The BIA
denied the motion because it was untimely and Nannoshi failed to demonstrate an exception to the
timely filing requirements. Specifically, the BIA found that he had not demonstrated that he was
prejudiced by the actions of his counsel because, due to his aggravated felony conviction, Nannoshi
was ineligible for almost all forms of relief except for deferral of removal under CAT. The BIA then
found that Nannoshi failed to demonstrate, and the record failed to support, that he was entitled to
deferral of removal under CAT.
On appeal, Nannoshi asserts that the BIA should have equitably tolled his time for filing the
motion to reopen because he was prejudiced by the ineffectiveness of his trial and appellate counsel.
See Mezo v. Holder, 615 F.3d 616, 620 (6th Cir. 2010); Barry v. Mukasey, 524 F.3d 721, 725 (6th
Cir. 2008) (noting that we have declined to equitably toll filing periods for ineffective assistance of
counsel where prejudice is not established).
A. Standard of Review
We review the BIA’s denial of the motion to reopen for abuse of discretion. See Barry, 524
F.3d at 724. The BIA abuses its discretion when its denial “was made without a rational explanation,
inexplicably departed from established policies, or rested on an impermissible basis such as
invidious discrimination against a particular race or group.” Id. (quoting Haddad v. Gonzales, 437
F.3d 515, 517 (6th Cir. 2006)). The BIA has “broad discretion to grant or deny such motions.”
Alizoti v. Gonzales, 477 F.3d 448, 451 (6th Cir. 2007). Here, Nannoshi’s sole argument that the BIA
abused its discretion is that it erred in concluding he was not prejudiced by his counsels’
B. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Nannoshi contends that his Fifth Amendment right to counsel was violated by the ineffective
assistance provided by his counsel at trial, as well as by the counsel he retained on appeal. He claims
that trial counsel erred by conceding that Nannoshi was ineligible for relief under § 212(c) based on
his aggravated felony conviction. Similarly, Nannoshi claims that his appellate counsel erred by
failing to file a timely brief arguing that trial counsel erred in conceding Nannoshi’s ineligibility
under § 212(c). Nannoshi argues that, as a result, the BIA should have equitably tolled the time for
filing a motion to reopen because he was otherwise prevented from making a successful argument
regarding his eligibility for relief from deportation.
A petitioner’s right to counsel in deportation proceedings is grounded in the Fifth
Amendment guarantee of due process. See Ikharo v. Holder, 614 F.3d 622, 630 (6th Cir. 2010). To
establish a due process violation in an immigration hearing, the petitioner must show that he was
prejudiced by the alleged ineffectiveness of his counsel. Id.; In re Assad, 23 I. & N. Dec. 553, 556
(BIA 2003). Thus, when reviewing an alleged due process violation, we look first at whether there
was a defect in the removal proceeding, and second, whether the alien was prejudiced because of it.
Ikharo, 614 F.3d at 630-31.
Prior to its repeal, § 212(c) provided the Attorney General with discretion to waive
deportation when an alien met certain criteria. In INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289 (2001), the Supreme
Court held that § 212(c) relief remains available for aliens “whose convictions were obtained through
plea agreements and who, notwithstanding those convictions, would have been eligible for § 212(c)
relief at the time of their plea under the law then in effect.” Id. at 326. Because Nannoshi entered
his guilty plea in 1994, prior to the 1997 cutoff-date provided in 8 C.F.R. § 1212.3(h)(2), he contends
that he is eligible to seek a § 212(c) waiver.
Nannoshi was ineligible for the waiver, however, because his conviction for sexual abuse of
a minor qualified as an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(A), and this conviction does
not have a statutory counterpart in § 212(a), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a). See 8 C.F.R. § 1212.3(f)(5);
Koussan v. Holder, 556 F.3d 403, 408-09 (6th Cir. 2009).
Nannoshi contends that Gutierrez-Almazan v. Gonzales, 491 F.3d 341 (7th Cir. 2007),
supports his proposition that there need not be a substantially similar ground of exclusion and
deportation for him to be entitled to § 212(c) relief. However, his argument is contrary to our
precedent in Koussan, and we have pointed out that “[n]umerous courts have held there must be a
comparable ground of exclusion for an alien in deportation proceedings to be eligible for section
212(c) relief.” 556 F.3d at 409 (quoting Gjonaj v. INS, 47 F.3d 824, 827 (6th Cir. 1995)).
Accordingly, we cannot change this well-established rule.1
Because Nannoshi cannot show that he was eligible for § 212(c) relief, he was not prejudiced
by trial counsel’s concession or appellate counsel’s failure to raise the argument on appeal. Absent
a showing of prejudice, his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel fail. Accordingly, the BIA
did not abuse its discretion by denying Nannoshi’s untimely motion to reopen.
The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to review the proper application of § 212(c) to LPRs
deported as a result of aggravated felony convictions. See Judulang v. Holder, 249 F. App’x 499 (9th Cir.
2007), cert. granted, 79 USLW 3672 (U.S. April 18, 2011) (No. 10-694).
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