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GiVE Back: V&E Pro Bono Blog

  • 23
  • October
  • 2017


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Pro Bono Heroes: Liane Noble & Michelle Arishita

On October 3, 2017, Senior Associate Liane Noble and Associate Michelle Arishita tried an asylum merits case in the Houston Immigration Court before a judge who was reported to have a 90% denial rate. They received a rare ruling from the bench granting asylum for a very deserving client, 26-year-old “MM” and her 4-year-old daughter “DD.”

MM suffered near-fatal domestic violence and repeated rape at the hands of her domestic partner in her home country of Honduras. The abuser beat her so brutally when she was eight months pregnant that she went into pre-term labor, giving birth to their daughter, DD. At five months old, DD also became a victim of the abuse. After escaping from the locked room in which the abuser kept them, multiple attempts at in-country relocations, and an unsuccessful plea for help from the Honduran police, MM and DD fled Honduras.

With assistance from V&E paralegal Heather Tyson and office clerk Javier Lopez, the lawyers prepared a 1200-page submission to the court, including a brief, client affidavit, three expert declarations, declarations from witnesses in Honduras, documentary evidence, and scholarly articles on domestic violence laws and conditions in Honduras. Working with translators, they also prepared MM, MM’s aunt, and a pro bono mental health expert for testimony before the court. Former V&E CCL Associate Stephanie Miller Noble prepared the initial asylum application, and Ferguson McNiel served as partner supervisor.

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Ellyn Haikin Josef Pro Bono Counsel