RESPONDENT: Eric Holder, Attorney General
LOCATION: Harris County TX
DOCKET NO.: 09-60
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2009-2010)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
CITATION: 560 US 563 (2010)
GRANTED: Dec 14, 2009
ARGUED: Mar 31, 2010
DECIDED: Jun 14, 2010
Nicole A. Saharsky - Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent
Sri Srinivasan - for the petitioner
Facts of the case
Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo was admitted to the United States in 1993 and became a lawful permanent resident. In 2004, he pled guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. One year later, he pled guilty to misdemeanor possession of Xanax, but was not tried as a recidivist. In 2006, Mr. Carachuri was notified that he was removable from the United States. He applied for removal cancellation, which was denied. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the decision.
On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that Mr. Carachuri was ineligible for cancellation of removal. The court reasoned that because Mr. Carachuri's second drug conviction could have been punished as a felony under the Controlled Substances Abuse Act, had he been prosecuted in federal court, the conviction qualified as an "aggravated felony" making him ineligible for cancellation of removal.
Has a person convicted under state law for simple drug possession been "convicted" of an "aggravated felony" on the theory that he could have been prosecuted as a recidivist, even though there was no charge or finding of a prior conviction in his prosecution for possession?
Media for Carachuri-Rosendo v. HolderAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 31, 2010 in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 14, 2010 in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder
John G. Roberts, Jr.:
Justice Steven has our opinion this morning case 09-60 Carachuri-Rosendo versus Holder.
John Paul Stevens:
The petitioner is a lawful permanent resident who's lived in the United States since he was five years old.
He faces deportation under federal law because he committed two misdemeanor drug offenses in Texas.
For first offense possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, he received a sentence of 20 days in jail.
For the second offense, possession without a prescription of one tablet of a common anti-anxiety medication, he received a sentence of 10 days in jail.
After the second offense the federal government initiated removal proceedings against him, he conceded that he was removable.
The claims that he was eligible for discretionary relief from removal under section 1229b(a) of the immigration statute.
So to decide whether he's eligible for cancellation or removal, we have to decide whether he is guilty, whether he has been convicted of an aggravated felony.
For reasons stated in my opinion for the Court and in opinions concurring in the judgment of by a Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas, we unanimously hold that he has not been convicted of an aggravated felony.