July 14, 2014 4th Circuit published opinions

Quitanilla v Holder

Quitanilla’s petition for cancellation of removal was denied based on the persecutors bar. The panel affirmed. It held the immigration judge had substantial evidence, including government reports and Quitanilla’s testimony that he arrested people during El Salvador’s civil war and turned them over to units known to torture people to conclude the bar applied. The panel held that Quintanilla was not a passive participant as he arrested people and delivered them for interrogation and his brigade had extensive documented human rights abuses and it was reasonable to conclude that Quitanilla knew about the abuse likely to occur once he turned the prisoners in.

United States v Jones

Jones sought habeas relief arguing that his sentence was now illegal because the state convictions used to enhance it had been vacated. The district court ruled the petition untimely and dismissed. The panel, with one judge dissenting in part and concurring in judgment in part, affirmed. The majority held that the petition was untimely as Jones knew of the grounds for relief more than one year prior to filing and no relief form the limitations period was available because claims of innocence of sentence are different in kind from claims of factual innocence or innocence of a death sentence and thus there is no basis to ignore the one year period. The dissent argued that it was not necessary to reach the issue of whether claims of innocence of a noncapital sentence can be allowed after the one year period because here, the sentence imposed was not based on career criminal status and thus there was no relief available to Jones even if the period was waived.

Alt v United States Environmental Agency and Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Incorporated

Foundation sought to intervene in Alt’s case against Agency after cross motions for summary judgment were field. The district court denied the motion as untimely. The panel affirmed. It held that the case was in an advanced state given the months of settlement negotiations and pending motion to dismiss, Alt would be prejudiced due to delay and extra effort and Foundation gambled that the case would be dismissed and only moved to intervene when its gamble failed.

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