Pro Bono Victory in the California Court of Appeal

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February 2015

On February 24, 2015, Irell & Manella LLP successfully obtained a writ of mandamus from the California Court of Appeal for its pro bono client Bryan S. who was within days of forever losing the right to remain in the United States.

Bryan had filed an action in the Los Angeles superior court's juvenile division to obtain an order granting his mother sole custody of him before he turned 18 and making certain findings of fact that would enable him, as a refugee from El Salvador, to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status and remain in the country. SIJ status is a form of federal relief for abandoned, abused or neglected children who enter the U.S. without documentation. It provides a path to permanent legal residence but requires certain predicate factual findings by a state juvenile court. In this case, the juvenile court refused Bryan’s request, and Bryan was about to age out of the state court’s juvenile court jurisdiction and lose his rights under the federal program.

Public Counsel turned to Irell to handle the emergency appellate proceedings. The Irell appellate team of Joshua Lee and Stephen Rossi first filed a writ in the Court of Appeal, explaining the emergency nature of the relief requested. There were a series of filings in and orders from the Court of Appeal. Then, a week after Irell was retained, the appellate court issued the requested writ granting Bryan all of the relief he requested. This allowed Bryan to qualify for SIJ status just days before he turned 18.