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Clinic Wins Asylum Case on Behalf of Honduran Woman

Sam Paul, '18, and Chris Tappan, '19 win an asylum case on behalf of a clinic client from Honduras

May 04, 2018

The Federal Litigation and Appeals Clinic won asylum for a Honduran woman who came to Philadelphia to flee domestic violence.

Sam Paul, a 3L, and Chris Tappan, a 2L, represented the woman who came to the U.S. in 2016 with one of her children to escape a boyfriend who had threatened to kill them.

The pair interviewed the woman and her family members in Honduras, obtained a psychological evaluation of the woman and arranged for an expert to draft an affidavit about social and cultural conditions in Honduras that leave domestic violence victims vulnerable to abuse.  In all, the students assembled more than 1,100 pages for their prehearing submission.

“It was really useful to have gone through all that work,” Paul said. “We had more corroborating evidence than a lot of these cases have.”

As the pair interviewed the woman and her relatives and obtained signed affidavits from them, Paul said, 3L Denisse García provided tremendous assistance as an interpreter.

“We could not have done this without her,” he said, adding that the case involved “a great collaborative effort.”

Paul and Tappan argued the case at a merits hearing at Philadelphia’s Immigration Court on April 27, with support from Professor Richard Frankel, who directs the clinic, and alumna Katelyn Hufe, ’11, a partner at Gian-Grasso, Tomczak & Hufe, PC.

At the hearing, Paul conducted the direct examination of the client, while Tappan conducted the direct examination of an expert who discussed Honduras’ machismo culture and police reluctance to intervene in domestic violence cases. Frankel assisted with the process, and Hufe handled key objections to the government’s questions.

“It was all four of us working together, which put us in a powerful position,” said Paul, who is also editor-in-chief of the Drexel Law Review.

The judge ruled from the bench, giving the team an immediate victory in the case. The government has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

Frankel said the students performed admirably at every turn.

“Sam and Chris overcame every obstacle they faced, prepared themselves well for the case, and shone in the courtroom,” he said.