On December 11, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals – the federal appeals court that covers Florida, Georgia, and Alabama – published the decision Dos Santos v. U.S. Att’y Gen., No. 19-12383 (11th Cir. Dec. 11, 2020).
In the Dos Santos decision, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that in immigration court, “[a] litigant is generally bound by the admissions in his pleadings.” This remains the case even if an attorney makes a mistake, and admits something incorrectly on her client’s behalf. Only in “egregious circumstances” will an attorney’s mistake not bind a noncitizen, requiring a (at a minimum) that: “(1) the concession was untrue or incorrect, (2) … the concession was so unfair that it led to an unjust result, and (3) … the concession was the result of unreasonable professional judgment.”
Boiled down, the Dos Santos decision makes it more difficult for noncitizens in immigration court to fix their attorney’s mistake later on down the road. Noncitizens and their attorneys need to therefore “get it right” the first time, making it very important for noncitizens to choose the right attorney for representation in all immigration court cases, including asylum, cancellation of removal, criminal-immigration defense, TPS, and everything else.