Calderon-Rodriguez v. Sessions, 9th Cir., 01-03-18, published
The panel granted Henri Calderon-Rodriguez’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision, concluding that the Board in two related ways abused its discretion in affirming the IJ’s competence evaluation and determination.
First, the Board affirmed the IJ’s inaccurate factual findings, failing to recognize that the medical record upon which the IJ and Board heavily relied was nearly a year old, and that it may have no longer reflected Calderon’s mental state.
Second, the Board affirmed the IJ’s departure from the standards set out by the Board for competency determinations in Matter of M-A-M-, 25 I. & N. Dec. 474 (BIA 2011). Specifically, the panel concluded that the IJ did not adequately ensure that the Department of Homeland Security complied with its obligation to provide the court with relevant materials in its possession that would inform the court about Calderon’s mental competency. In this respect, the panel noted that, importantly, neither the IJ nor the Board recognized that, as DHS was providing ongoing medical care to Calderon as a detainee, it necessarily possessed additional relevant, but not introduced, medical records.
The panel remanded to the Board with instructions to remand Calderon’s case to the IJ for a competence evaluation based on current mental health reviews and medical records, as well as any other relevant evidence.
** This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader.
PANEL: A. Wallace Tashima and Marsha S. Berzon,Circuit Judges, and Matthew F. Kennelly,* District Judge.* The Honorable Matthew F. Kennelly, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, sitting by designation.
OPINION BY: Judge Berzon
“First, the BIA affirmed the IJ’s inaccurate factual finding about the mental health evidence in the record. Neither the IJ nor the BIA recognized that the medical record upon which they heavily relied was nearly a year old, and that it may have no longer reflected Calderon’s mental state. Instead, the IJ referred to the medical record as an “updated” reflection of Calderon’s present mental health condition, and stated that the record showed that Calderon “[p]resently . . . is not exhibiting any active PTSD symptoms, suicide ideation, hallucinations, or psychosis” (emphasis added). Those findings as to Calderon’s condition at the time of the hearing were not supported by the year-old date on the mental health record. As these critical factual findings were made “without ‘support in inferences that may be drawn from the facts in the record,’” Rodriguez v. Holder, 683 F.3d 1164, 1170 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Anderson v. Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 577 (1985) and citing United States v. Hinkson, 585 F.3d 1247,M1262 (9th Cir. 2009) (en banc)), they constituted an abuse of discretion.
Second, the BIA abused its discretion by affirming the IJ’s departure from the standards set forth in Matter of M-A-M-, 25 I&N Dec. at 480–81. See Mejia, 868 F.3d at 1121. While the IJ did “take” at least some “measures” to determine whether Calderon was competent, Matter of M-A- M-, 25 I&N Dec. at 480, she did not adequately ensure that DHS complied with its “obligation to provide the court with relevant materials in its possession that would inform the court about the respondent’s mental competency,” as required by Matter of M-A-M-. Id.
Importantly, neither the IJ nor the BIA recognized that, as DHS was providing ongoing medical care to Calderon as a detainee, it necessarily possessed additional relevant, but not introduced, medical records. There were, indeed, specific indications that there were later medical records not provided to the IJ or the BIA that could have reflected a deterioration in Calderon’s condition.”
This unrepresented Respondent has been in DHS custody for going on six years! This case previously reached the Court of Appeals and was remanded at the DOJ’s request for the holding of a competency hearing. Yet, the BIA still did not take the time and care necessary to properly apply their own precedent on how to conduct mental competency hearings consistent with due process!