Thiersaint v. Holder
In Pierre v. Gonzales, a 2007 decision, the 2nd Circuit held that a claimant can demonstrate a likelihood of torture by providing some evidence that authorities will act with the specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering, because of certain characteristics or medical conditions. The petitioner, a citizen of Haiti who has an amputated leg, was convicted of an aggravated felony and applied for deferral of deportation under CAT, the Convention Against Torture. The petitioner's expert witness discussed poor prison conditions and suggested that disabled criminal deportees are especially vulnerable to mistreatment. Hartford Immigration Judge Michael Straus found that there was "insufficient evidence to show widespread physical beatings intended by Haitian government officials of criminal deportees, or even criminal deportees similarly situated to [the petitioner]." The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed. The plaintiff appealed and argued that the Board of Immigration Appeals failed to consider his central legal argument that, if he were returned to Haiti, he would be targeted for torture, because of his disability. Evidence in the record failed to support the petitioner's claim that the board ignored the petitioner's legal arguments. The Board of Immigration Appeals acknowledged the petitioner's physical disability and the potential hardships that he may experience in prison. The petitioner's expert, wrote the 2nd Circuit, did not "identify any specific instances in which a physically disabled criminal deportee had been targeted for torture because of his physical characteristics." The 2nd Circuit denied the petition for review.