Yetter Coleman’s pro bono work for Nepali citizen Khagendra Sharma has resulted in a Fifth Circuit victory. Mr. Sharma was persecuted by Maoists guerillas during the recent decade-long civil war in Nepal, and he fled to this country and applied for asylum. Immigration officials, however, denied the application.
In a unanimous published opinion, the Fifth Circuit reversed the immigration agency’s decision, finding that no substantial evidence supported the agency’s conclusions. The court explained that the agency had simply failed to account for Mr. Sharma’s testimony describing how he was physically singled out for his failure to support the Maoists, who then imprisoned, beat, and persecuted him after he continued to affirm his loyalty to the opposition political party. The court of appeals faulted the agency for imposing an unrealistic standard of proof, demanding some direct evidence of the Maoists stating what their actions conveyed—their intolerance for Mr. Sharma’s just-stated political opinion.
Mr. Sharma was represented in the Fifth Circuit by Cam Barker, who argued the case in early August. The court issued its decision overturning the agency’s ruling within three weeks of oral argument.