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Rigoberto Aguilar-Turcios v. Holder

The panel withdrew its published opinion in Aguilar-Turcios v. Holder, 582 F.3d 1093 (9th Cir. 2009) based on the en banc decision in Aguila Montes de Oca (see my Aguila post) and directed more briefing. This case presents a clear example of the change that Aguila will effect.

In this case, a marine was court martialed for disobeying a general order, which in this case prohibited the use of government computers to access pornography (legal or illegal). The prosecution alleged some of the pornography accessed (6 pictures) involved minors. He pled guilty to accessing pornographic websites. At some point, he also admitted that six of the pictures involved persons under 18, although it is not clear from the earlier panel decision whether he did this in his plea or in the removal proceedings. The government sought to remove him for conviction of an aggravated felony for conviction of a child pornography offense (8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(I)).

The original panel decision, over Judge Bybee's dissent, found that the modified categorical approach could not conform the conviction to the immigration aggravated felony definition for conviction of a child pornography offense because the offense never requires that the images involve minors--it only requires that the images amount to pornography (including of adults). In other words, it was missing an element of the generic aggravated felony offense. Aguila rejected the missing element rule and likely will compel a different result in this case (but feel free to disagree by posting a comment below!).

Read the order at