my first case (that I understood, not handled)

For the last several months I have been acclimating myself, bit by bit, to the language of the law. I started by skimming a few library-lent ‘nutshell’ books on broad legal topics like contracts and torts that I will tackle as a 1L. Then, I hooked up with two other pre-law bloggers and began working through exercises and discussing the concept of legal writing in plain English via an excellent and practical book on the subject. I bought a pocket Black’s law dictionary and looked up words and phrases I came across. I sat through session after session of the American Immigration Lawyers Association conference, at times wondering where on earth I was, at other times totally following the legal discussion of immigration law. At times, I even appeared to know more that an attorney or two.

During the conference, I heard a discussion of a certain recent case, which, without getting too technical, altered a common way of determining what constitutes an admission to the U.S. for purposes of adjusting one’s status. For an example, like countless Mexicans and other Central Americans, Fermin entered the U.S. back in 1998 “without inspection.” He had no visa, he was never stopped at a border patrol checkpoint, he was never inspected. Generally, people who enter this way, cannot adjust their status from within the U.S. even if they marry a U.S. citizen and are eligible for an immediate visa. This is why he had to have his visa interview in Mexico, despite being married to me. And upon leaving the U.S., his unlawful presence triggered a 10-year bar which required  the I-601 waiver.

If Fermin had entered the U.S. ten years ago on a tourist visa, even if he had overstayed it by 9.5 years, he could have adjusted his status within the U.S., never needing a waiver. There are, however, legal questions when it comes to determining if a person has entered legally, “with inspection,” and was “admitted.” What if Fermin had entered the U.S. at the border with someone else’s green card?  Is that with or without inspection? That is the question, as I understand it, in my non-lawyer, not-even-law-student view, in Orozco v. Mukasey, which I have been meaning to read since the AILA conference and finally did tonight.

Thus it becomes the first legal case I have ever read with any hint of understanding. And frankly, I understood all of it. The decision is clear and well-stated, yet unfortunate for many people who once were eligible for adjust their status despite a fraudulent entry and now may not have that opportunity. I know someone in this situation, and I don’t envy her awkward limbo right now… but this is not supposed to be another sad post, it’s more of a triumph – I read a case, and I got it. It wasn’t even a challenge. I have to do all the hard work so that one day I can be a great lawyer.

On to contracts, civil procedure, torts and criminal law!


4 Responses to my first case (that I understood, not handled)

  1. Rachel says:

    You are on your way to becoming a real legal beagle Laura! Don’t worry torts are easy and fun and usually involve strawberries and custard!

  2. laurafern says:

    LOL – oh man I wish that were true…

  3. lois bruss says:

    I noticed you used the word “thus” in the last paragraph of this post. The lawyers in our commercial insurance office use that word quite often in business letters, etc. “Therefore” is another word they like to use. After you see it for awhile it does come in quite handy and I now use both in written correspondence.

    You mention “Torts” – this is a common term in insurance language which I still don’t understand. THEREFORE when you’ve learned what that means please share it with me !

  4. Kel says:

    Hooray! It must have felt so good!

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