Expert testimony may make all the difference in an asylum case. Knowing how to present expert testimony – and what is required to qualify an expert in court – is therefore one of the most important things an immigration attorney must do during removal proceedings.
On November 18, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit published the decision Castillo v. Barr, No. 19-72745 (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 2020), making clear that “[i]mproperly rejected expert testimony is a legal error and, thus, per se reversible.” Put another way, the Castillo Court is holding that expert testimony can make or break an asylum case, and if improperly rejected, creates a strong basis for success on appeal.
The Castillo decision is even more important in light of a recent published decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), Matter of J-G-T-, 28 I&N Dec. 97 (BIA 2020), explaining the standard immigration judges must use when determining whether to qualify a witness as an “expert.” Once a witness is qualified as an “expert” under Matter of J-G-T-, the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Castillo becomes applicable, potentially putting an asylum case or any other immigration case on the path to success.
For more information on Castillo v. Barr, No. 19-72745 (9th Cir. Nov. 18, 2020) and Matter of J-G-T-, 28 I&N Dec. 97 (BIA 2020), check out the Immigration Review Podcast, Episodes 22 and 30.