Haynes and Boone and American Airlines Lawyers Help Pro Bono Client Gain Asylum


Two Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers and an American Airlines lawyer have won asylum for a Cameroon native, who was a member of the Cameroon Democratic Union, an opposition political party whose members were targeted by the ruling party in Cameroon, and CODE, a human rights organization focused on exposing the abuses of the Cameroonian people by the Cameroonian president and his political party.

In 2011, the client fled for the United States and filed an asylum petition pro se, which was denied due to the alleged ‘inconsistencies’ in his story. Through the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, Haynes and Boone Partner Karen Denney and Associate Emily Westridge Black and American Airlines Senior Attorney James Kaleigh were introduced to the Cameroon native and began representing him in the case of his asylum application.

After reviewing the client’s file, the lawyers realized that the alleged inconsistencies were a result of misunderstandings, which occurred due to the client’s difficulty in communicating the actions taken against him due to his political opinion and membership in these two groups. For more than two and a half years, Denney, Black and Kaleigh advised the client in his case and during this time, the lawyers found alternative ways to clarify the client’s story of persecution through his own affidavit, numerous affidavits from family, friends, and members of his political organizations, and written briefing.

After considering written and oral arguments and conducting a full hearing on the merits, the judge determined that the client was eligible for asylum based on the persecution he had suffered, and further noted that any alleged inconsistencies in his story were immaterial. When the judge rendered his decision, the government attorney announced that the government would not appeal the decision.

“It was extremely gratifying to help our client find his voice,” said Black. “Conveying that decision to our client – and seeing how he was completely overcome – was one of the most profound and touching moments of my career.”

At Haynes and Boone, Black serves as a member of the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Privacy and Data Breach groups, while Denney is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group.

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